The leading supermarkets have blocked access to parts of their stores following advice from the Government for England’s national lockdown. The move has sparked fury among customers, who reported seeing stacks of beers and chocolates used as barriers to stop entry into parts of the shops.
Pictures show high towers of Christmas chocolate tins stacked high blocking access to escalators in order to prevent shoppers reaching “non-essential” sections of stores.
Similar images were seen in other stores, where crates of Budweiser beers were used to block access.
The supermarkets have implemented the measures in response to Government guidance, which instructed shops to close any “sufficiently distinct parts” selling non-essential items.
The Tesco stores in question blocked off a whole floor dedicated to clothing and home furnishings.
People have reacted furiously to the news, which stops parents from buying clothes for their children.
One angry parent wrote on Facebook about a Tesco store in Walsall, in the West Midlands: “You should be ashamed of yourselves.
“This is Walsall too so for anyone who says ‘oh, it’s only Wales who are doing this’ you are wrong!
“We now can’t buy our kids clothes and yes there’s online but sometimes urgency requires people to go in-store, and some people have no access to the internet.
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Customers report non-essential goods have been blocked off in Tesco stores in Sutton Coldfield, Weybridge, Streatham and Walsall.
A Tesco spokesperson said: “In line with new Government guidance in England which requires the closure of separate floors selling non-food items, we have closed the Clothing and General Merchandise departments in our stores that sell these products from a separate mezzanine level.
“We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. If there’s something in particular that customers really need from the mezzanine level, please just speak to one of our in-store colleagues and they’ll be happy to help you.”
Social media users also claimed Sainsbury’s stores were closing off parts of their stores where “non-essential goods” are located.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We are complying with all legal restrictions across the devolved nations with regard to Covid restrictions.”
Marks & Spencer has also shut off clothing and home areas within its stores that also sell food.
Government guidance states grocery retailers can sell “non-essential” homeware if it is stocked on its aisles, but if the goods are on a separate floor, it must close off the area.
It comes after shops in Wales were told to cordon off particular aisles and sections that sold items such as books, CD’s and clothes.
The changes prompted outrage, and led to the Welsh Government issuing updated guidance on what could be sold during the “firebreak lockdown”.