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Supermarkets ease shopping restrictions - but demand for online deliveries remains high

PUBLISHED: 16:57 08 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:08 08 April 2020

The queue at Lidl supermarket during the Coronavirus lockdown in Attleborough. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The queue at Lidl supermarket during the Coronavirus lockdown in Attleborough. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

The days of quickly nipping into a supermarket to pick up supplies feel like distant memories, with shoppers having to keep up with the latest advice and regulations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Major chains have reacted to social distancing measures by controlling the amount of customers in stores, reducing opening hours, bringing in specific shopping times for NHS staff and carers, imposing queuing systems with appropriate two-metre markers and ramping up hygiene measures, such as disinfecting trolley handles.

Customers have been encouraged to shop as infrequently as possible and limits have been put in place to combat hoarding of certain items, leaving households needing to plan their shopping more carefully to ensure they have enough food.

There are also hygiene demands on shoppers, with anyone showing coronavirus symptoms being told to stay away and those who are healthy to maintain a two-metre distance from others, to only pick up what they intend to buy and to use contactless payment if possible.

Sainsbury’s reacted this week by lifting the three-item product limit on certain items after feedback from those also shopping for vulnerable or older people who are self-isolating, although the limits will remain on pasta, UHT milk, antibacterial products and some tinned and frozen foods.

Other chains, including Aldi, Morrisons and Waitrose, have also relaxed their policies.

Asda has launched a ‘volunteer shopping card’ to give those who are self-isolating a contact-free way to allow others to collect and pay for their weekly shop.

But while routines may be in place at supermarkets, demand for their online deliveries and click-and-collect services remains high, with the major chains hiring more delivery staff and imposing priority slots for those who need the services most.

Tesco has announced in recent days that its home delivery capacity has risen by 20pc in the past fortnight, creating 145,000 extra shopping slots, but that they still expect 90pc of customers will need to shop in store.

On Tesco’s website yesterday, for an address in Norwich, shoppers were not able to secure either home delivery or click-and-collect during the available dates, shown through until April 28.

No click-and-collect slots were available at Sainsbury’s Pound Lane store for the available dates, up to April 29, with delivery slots reserved for more vulnerable shoppers, and it was a similar position at Eaton’s Waitrose shop.

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