The biggest supermarket chains have revealed if they plan to re-introduce product purchase limits on a number of key items.

It comes amid fears that shoppers have started to panic-buy due to concerns over a possible second national lockdown.

While the governement's of the four devolved nations across the UK - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - are keeping the situation under constant review as coronavirus cases rise, further safety measures have also been rolled out by supermarkets to keep staff and shoppers safe.

We got in touch with each of the main supermarket chains on Friday (September 25) to find out whether they plan to re-introduce product purchase limits.

Tesco

East Lothian Courier:

In stores, there will be a three-items per customer limit for flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes and anti-bacterial wipes.

There are additional limits for a small number of products online, such as rice and canned veg.

Face coverings are available for sale at the front of the store.

A Tesco spokesperson told us: “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.”

Asda

East Lothian Courier:

Asda said there are no limits on products at the moment.

A spokesperson told us: "We’ve currently got good availability in our stores and the same can be said for our online slots."

On Wednesday (September 23), Asda also announced a number of additional safety measures across its stores to provide an enhanced level of protection for customers and staff.

The new measures, to be implemented in the coming weeks, include:

The creation of 1,000 new Asda Safety Marshals stationed at the front of every store and in the aisles of larger stores. These colleagues will be on hand to help customers with safety queries and reiterate Government guidelines to wear a face covering and maintain social distancing while they shop. Customers who do not have a covering when they enter the store will be offered a pack of disposable masks that they can pay for as they complete their shopping.

Additionally, those marshals stationed at the store entrance will provide sanitised baskets / trolleys to customer as they enter the store.

Introducing additional hand sanitisation stations in the busiest sections of all stores in addition to the multiple cleaning points already found throughout stores.

Applying a protective coating to all basket and trolley handles, creating an antimicrobial surface that prevents the spread of bacteria and viruses. The same coating technology (Bio Master X shield) is already used to kill bacteria and viruses in the NHS Nightingale Excel hospital.

Following the recent change in Government guidance, all Asda store colleagues in England, Wales and Scotland will now wear a covering while at work unless they have a medical exemption. Asda say they have always encouraged staff to wear a covering by offering them a choice of disposable and reusable coverings and visors.

Aldi

East Lothian Courier:

When contacted on Friday, Aldi told us they 'good availability'. The company added that 'there are no immediate plans to introduce restrictions but said they are reviewing the situation day by day'.

In an open letter to customers earlier in the week, Aldi CEO Giles Hurley said: "As we continue to battle this virus together, I want to reassure you that the comprehensive safety measures we put in place in our stores at the start of the pandemic are still very much in place – and will remain so for as long as they are necessary."

These measures include:

  • A traffic light system at store entrances to manage the number of people in stores at any one time
  • Protective screens at all 7,000 of our checkouts
  • Social distancing markers in store
  • NHS, blue light and vulnerable priority access hours
  • Sanitisation stations at store entrances
  • Clear signs throughout stores to advise customers on how to shop safely, in line with the latest Government guidance
  • Contactless payments increased to £45

Mr Hurley added: "We ask that customers continue to wear a face covering when shopping with us, unless they are exempt from doing so. Our store colleagues will also continue to wear face coverings whilst working in store.

"I would like to reassure you that our stores remain fully stocked and ask that you continue to shop considerately.

"There is no need to buy more than you usually would. We have remained open for our customers throughout the pandemic and will continue to have daily deliveries, often multiple times a day, across all of our products.

"We also know many of our customers still need additional support. To those vulnerable customers, please rest assured that the measures we introduced to give you safe access to affordable food, such as early opening times from Monday to Saturday will continue.

"We are also trialling a number of initiatives including an on-demand grocery home delivery in partnership with Deliveroo to help those who cannot currently visit our stores. To find out if your local store offers this service please visit aldi.co.uk/deliveroo.

"We have also launched today a click and collect trial at our Allendale Road store in Loughborough which we hope to extend to your local Aldi in the near future. To find out more please visit groceries.aldi.co.uk.

"While in store, we kindly ask that you try to maintain a safe distance from others at all times, shop by yourself whenever possible and use contactless payment methods if you can.

"I will of course keep you updated on any new steps we are taking, and please rest assured that we are as committed as ever to providing you with a quick, safe and affordable shopping experience every time you visit Aldi."

Lidl

East Lothian Courier:

On Friday, a Lidl spokesperson told us: "We are not currently experiencing any product shortages and have good availability in stores.

"As such, there are no restrictions on any of our products."

Sainsbury's

East Lothian Courier:

When contacted on Friday (September 25), Sainsbury's said: "We aren’t currently restricting products."

Iceland

East Lothian Courier:

Iceland said: "We have no plans to introduce any product restriction."

On Wednesday (September 23), a spokesperson told us: "There is no evidence of panic buying in our stores and there is plenty of stock in the system; there is no shortage of products and therefore no need for restrictions on purchases.

"Nor do we expect there to be any shortages or restrictions so long as people continue to shop responsibly for what they actually need.

"The empty shelves found in March could also have been avoided if people had adhered to that simple advice.

"Since the start of lockdown we and the other food retailers have invested many millions in making our supply chains more robust and our stores Covid secure.

"We have also vastly increased our online delivery capacity to 750,000 slots per week, so there is no shortage of those, either."

In a message to customers, Iceland added: "Finally, we cannot overemphasise the fact that there is no need for panic buying and that it is both selfish and socially divisive: stockpiling is only an option for the better-off, and it seriously disadvantages those including the elderly and vulnerable who can only afford to buy what they need."

Waitrose

East Lothian Courier:

A spokeswoman from Waitrose told us: "We are holding good stock levels in all key product areas and we would like to reassure customers that there is no need to worry about buying more than they need.

"To ensure that customers can get what they need we've set a purchase limit of two packs on a small number of items including toilet rolls and hand sanitiser for online purchases."

M&S Food

East Lothian Courier:

When contacted on Friday, a spokesperson for M&S said the company haven't made any restrictions for shoppers.

Co-op

East Lothian Courier:

A spokesman from the Co-op said: "We’ve no plans to implement restrictions as we’re not seeing any panic buying."

Morrisons

East Lothian Courier:

A Morrisons spokeswoman 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."

The limits for customers in Morrisons stores are:

  • Bar soap - maximum of three items 
  • Hand sanitizers - maximum of three items 
  • Hand wash - maximum of three items 
  • Calpol - maximum of two items 
  • World foods rice  - maximum of three items 
  • World foods flour - maximum of three items 
  • World foods oil - maximum of three items 
  • Toilet paper - maximum of three items 
  • Bathroom cleaning - maximum of three items 
  • Floor cleaning -  maximum of three items
  • Glass and window cleaning - maximum of three items  
  • Kitchen cleaning - maximum of three items 
  • Multi-purpose cleaning - maximum of three items 
  • Bleach - maximum of three items 
  • Disinfectant - maximum of three items 
  • Toilet care bleach and disinfectant - maximum of three items 
  • Kitchen roll - maximum of three items 

What have the British Retail Consortium said?

Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers have done an excellent job in ensuring customers have access to food and necessities throughout this pandemic.

"Since March, retail businesses have strengthened their supply chains as well as investing hundreds of millions to make stores safe and secure for customers; this includes perspex screens, social distancing measures and additional hygiene measures.

"As such, retail remains a safe space for consumers, even under future lockdowns.

“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.”