Former Waitrose boss Lord Price explained supermarkets have struggled to keep stock from flying off their shelves as Britons start panic-buying during the coronavirus outbreak. Fearful shoppers have desperately bought stock as Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked Britons to self-isolate during the pandemic. The situation has left shelves bare.
Speaking to Sky News, Lord Price said: “There is ample food production on two boards of food producers so, the food is there.
“The challenge though is getting that food through the supermarket distribution centres and then getting it to the shops and keeping it on the shelves in the shop.
“If you look at the parallels to what happened in Italy and Spain with their coronavirus cases, when the schools were closed, when people were told to work from home and when the restaurants were closed, obviously people then started to buy more from the supermarkets.
“Their peak week for stocking up was this week but reports from there say that’s now calmed down and they have enough stock in their supermarkets.
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“But I think this week will be particularly damaging for the supermarkets just to keep things on their shelves.”
With food flying off the shelves as fast as exhausted shop assistants can replenish them, British supermarkets have stepped up their hiring to see them through the coronavirus crisis.
Panic buying by people fearing they need to stockpile in anticipation of possible prolonged isolation or social distancing has led to unprecedented demand on supermarkets and their ability to restock with in-demand items.
Supermarkets are advertising on television for employees as existing staff are rushed off their feet and German discounter Aldi’s British arm said on Friday it was seeking to hire 9,000 new workers, 5,000 of which would be temporary.
Britain’s fourth-largest player Morrisons said on Tuesday it plans to create 3,500 new jobs.
The British government has advised people to avoid pubs, cafes and restaurants and has closed schools in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
But with the coronavirus forecast to be around for months, large supermarkets are set to gain considerable share of Britain’s overall UK food market.
Clive Black, analyst at Shore Capital, estimates some 20-25% of Britain’s calorific intake will switch from the food and beverage sector such as cafes, restaurants and bars to the grocery retail sector as people adapt to the new way of living.