Supermarkets warn of ‘second wave’ panic buying

Ocado, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have all warned that delivery slots are in increasingly high demand as fears of second lockdown drives panic buying.

Ocado told customers that delivery slots were “selling out faster than usual”, advising them to use the “next three days button to see available slots further in advance”.

Sainsbury’s said it was working hard to expand its service as delivery slots “are still in high demand”, while Tesco also posted a notice on its delivery website over the weekend stating that while they were “releasing slots as and when they become available”, they “are filling up quickly”.

This comes after UK Coronavirus cases surged by 4,422 and health secretary Matt Hancock warned that ministers will have to roll out national measures if the public does not follow existing regulations.

To fight off the second wave, prime minister Boris Johnson is thought to be preparing to replace the rule of six social distancing measures with tougher restrictions.

Ahead of the first UK lockdown in March, there was a wave of panic buying, leaving supermarkets without staple products like toilet paper, pasta and nappies.

Restrictions were put in place to help the vulnerable, elderly and key workers get what they needed, while many put limits on the amounts people were allowed to buy. Delivery slots for online orders were booked out, with waiting lists only getting back to normal in the last couple of months.

Retail Systems reported on how supermarket supply chains were unprepared for the crisis and what technology could help prevent the same problems occurring again.

Rob Shaw, EMEA managing director at Fluent Commerce, commented: “We will, without question, see a ramping up of online ordering and contactless deliveries/collections – in the previous lockdown, some businesses simply could not cope with this demand.”

He pointed out that a lifeline for businesses is that many were already preparing for the traditional peak trading period. “Therefore retailers should accelerate testing and process planning to ensure any further increase in online ordering, due to a lockdown, can be processed and fulfilled in a timely and efficient manner.”

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