British supermarket giants Tesco and Morrisons have become the first to act by rationing British shoppers amid new panic-buying fears. Mounting alarm over new coronavirus restrictions and fears of a second national lockdown have prompted the two supermarket chains to place limits on items. The supermarkets are trying to prevent a repeat of the panic-buying that led to chaotic shortages in March.
More than a quarter of the UK population is set to be under coronavirus lockdown rules, as new measures come into force this weekend.
Tesco now has a three-items per customer limit on flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes and some wet wipes.
This comes after Morrisons introduced a limit of three items per customer on similar ranges including toilet rolls and disinfectant products.
A spokeswoman for Waitrose said that the supermarket chain would also start imposing limits on some items in all stores within days.
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However, the managing director of Iceland told the BBC he is urging shoppers to “calm down and carry on as normal”.
Dr Anthony Brown, from Loughborough University, told Sky News the UK is witnessing “a repeat of what we saw earlier this year”.
He explained: “It can become self-fulfilling. Once the supermarkets announce this, a lot of people feel there is an issue.
“They run to the stores and they fill up.”
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A Tesco spokeswoman tried to reassure consumers, saying: “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.”
The British Retail Consortium has told consumers to keep shopping normally in a bid to stop a repeat of the panic-buying seen in March.
Andrew Opie, its food and sustainability director, said on Thursday: “Supply chains are stronger than ever before, and we do not anticipate any issues in the availability of food or other goods under a future lockdown.
“Nonetheless, we urge consumers to be considerate of others and shop as they normally would.”