Chaos at the check­out

It all started with a run on toi­let rolls

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Special Report: Feeding The Nation -

March 2

Sev­eral of the big food re­tail­ers re­port signs of panic buy­ing. Toi­let pa­per quickly be­comes the top item stock­piled by peo­ple, de­spite most of the UK’s rolls be­ing made at home.

March 2

Re­tail an­a­lysts warn that the army could be called in to pro­tect de­pots, food lor­ries and stores. “Yes, it will be chaotic (and ex­pect pic­tures of empty shelves),” an­a­lyst Bruno Monteyne says.

March 8

Some chains be­gin lim­it­ing sales of es­sen­tial food and house­hold items. Shop­pers are lim­ited to buy­ing no more than five of cer­tain goods ini­tially in some stores and on­line.

March 13

Su­per­mar­kets put up signs on the shelves to discourage bulk buy­ing. Staff at the tills are ver­bally abused in some cases by dis­grun­tled cus­tomers af­ter be­ing told off for buy­ing too much.

March 15

Re­tail­ers write an open let­ter ask­ing shop­pers to shop con­sid­er­ately. “We un­der­stand your con­cerns but buy­ing more than is needed can some­times mean that oth­ers will be left with­out,” they say.

March 19

Su­per­mar­kets dras­ti­cally cut prod­uct ranges to in­crease vol­umes. Mor­risons was able to pack 65pc more loaves of bread a week, for ex­am­ple, by cut­ting the types of bread on of­fer from 17 to seven.

March 19

Mean­while, the Gov­ern­ment re­laxes com­pe­ti­tion rules to al­low re­tail­ers to work to­gether to feed the na­tion. Rules around driv­ers’ hours are also loos­ened to de­liver more food to shops overnight.

March 20

A tear­ful nurse urges the public to stop panic buy­ing in vi­ral video af­ter be­ing un­able to buy food: “There’s no fruit, there’s no veg­eta­bles. I just don’t know how I’m sup­posed to stay healthy.”

March 23

Su­per­mar­kets limit shop­pers in store as rules tighten. They in­stall pro­tec­tive screens for staff; en­cour­age shop­pers to pay by con­tact­less card; and on the floor there are mark­ings to guide shop­pers.

March 29

The first food boxes are de­liv­ered to vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple. They con­tain: UHT long life milk, tinned pro­duce, pasta, toi­let roll, break­fast ce­real, some fruit and veg­eta­bles and bread.

March 31

Su­per­mar­kets be­gin to re­lax ra­tioning af­ter the stock­pil­ing cri­sis. Grant Shapps, the Trans­port Sec­re­tary, tells Bri­tons to “try and shop just once a week, do the es­sen­tials and not ev­ery­thing else”.

March 31

Su­per­mar­ket sales top £10.8bn in record four weeks, more than is recorded at Christ­mas, data firm Kan­tar says. Peo­ple spend an ex­tra £1.9bn in March com­pared with the year be­fore.

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