Supermarkets act over panic buying

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
25 September 2020

UK supermarkets are introducing measures to tackle panic buying as reports emerge of empty shelves.

Tesco and Morrisons have brought in limits on products including toilet roll despite retailers reporting greater stocks of goods following panic buying earlier in the year at the start of lockdown.

Tesco has introduced a three-item limit for flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes and antibacterial wipes. There are also limits for certain products online, such as rice and canned veg.

A spokesperson said: “We have good availability, with plenty of stock to go round, and we would encourage our customers to shop as normal. To ensure that everyone can keep buying what they need, we have introduced bulk-buy limits on a small number of products.

“To help our customers shop safely, we will also have colleagues at the entrances of our larger stores to remind customers about the safety measures we have in place, including the legal requirement to wear a face covering.”

A Morrisons spokesperson said: “We are introducing a limit on a small number of key products, such as toilet roll and disinfectant. Our stock levels of these products are good but we want to ensure that they are available for everyone.” 

Richard Wilding, professor of supply chain strategy at Cranfield School of Management, said he doubted panic buying would reach the levels of six months ago.

“I think it is important to say that we are in a very different situation than we were six months ago. Importantly we are not in complete lock down. There is now additional capacity for online and retailers will I suspect rapidly implement limits on products if they detect stockpiling taking place.

“I would think also that households, due to moving to larger weekly shops, will already be holding higher stock levels at home.”

A study has suggested rationing could be the answer to panic buying in a second lockdown.

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