Supermarkets including Tesco and Morrisons introduce purchase limits on essential items

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Supermarkets including Tesco and Morrisons were the first food stores to reimplement buying restrictions in September amid a fear of customers stockpiling and panic buying. As the UK faces tougher rules from Thursday, what are the new rules?

Food stores around the country are acting to prevent a repeat of the panic-buying and stockpiling that led to shortages and bare shelves back in March. 

Supermarket giant Tesco has limited the amount of items a customer can buy as well as reintroducing purchase limits. 

A statement on their website reads: “Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, we have buying limits on all our products and may sometimes have limited or no availability of some items.

“You’ll see online messages and in-store notices which tell you about the current limits.”

There are also regular updates on their website, where customers can find out what products have purchase limits.

Foods where there is a buying limit include pasta, flour, toilet roll and baby wipes. 

The supermarket giant has also had a limit of 95 items per online order in place since April.

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said panic buying is “unnecessary” and added that it only “creates a tension in the supply chain”. 

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Tesco also says it has “good stock levels” and encourages “customers to shop as they normally would so that everyone is able to get what they need”.

Morrisons also joined Tesco back in September and introduced buying limits on certain products.

A statement on their website reads: “We are increasing production where possible so that we can service the high levels of customer demand we are currently seeing.

“Please be patient and continue to check the website for our latest range.”

The supermarket is also managing queues outside of the store by allowing customers with a basket to skip the queue. 

Customers who are doing a smaller shop can gain quicker entry into the store where three customers who are only carrying a basket can enter for every one person with a trolley.

Sainsbury’s currently has no buying limits in place, but the supermarket giant says it will occasionally put limits on items that are high in demand.

Discount retailer Aldi also has no plans to implement buying restrictions but encourages its customers to shop only for the food they need.

In a letter to Aldi customers, CEO Giles Hurley wrote: “I would like to reassure you that our stores remain fully stocked and ask that you continue to shop considerately. There is no need to buy more than you usually would. 

“We have remained open for our customers throughout the pandemic and will continue to have daily deliveries, often multiple times a day, across all of our products.”

The retailer also said that their shelves are regularly stocked throughout the day.

When shopping, customers should try to shop when the supermarkets are less busy.

The statement added: “Our busiest time is between 11am-3pm, so by extending our hours you have more time to shop safely. Normal Sunday opening hours remain in place.”

Lidl also has no purchase limits in place but in some stores, their bakery items are pre-packaged to try and stop the spread of the virus.

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