SIX months ago, as coronavirus started to menacingly take hold of the country, forcing a national lockdown, panic buyers flocked in their droves to supermarkets.

Stockpiling everything from toilet rolls to bottled water became a pastime for people perhaps too inconsiderate of the unprecedented struggles facing the vulnerable.

Eventually, the craze of preparing for the apocalypse started to die down, shelves were no longer ransacked, and, for a while, we chuckled about how silly we had been.

But, despite the endless weeks of community togetherness which followed, clearly, we learnt nothing, and it seems the dog-eat-dog mentality is now creeping back in.

No sooner after Downing Street announced plans to once again tighten restrictions this week, disparaging images of empty aisles started to circulate on social media.

The murmurs of a second, national lockdown – a legitimate threat if people continue to flout the rules – have already sent those looking to get ahead into a frenzy.  

But, if the unthinkable does happen, and we are once again confined to our homes, with only toilet roll to chew on, will our supermarkets be prepared?

It is a question many people will now, undoubtedly, start thinking about. But what do supermarket bosses have to say about their chances of surviving another overwhelming flood of shoppers?


Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

A spokesman for Sainsbury’s aimed to put the concerns of panic buyers, and those shopping sensibly, at ease.

“Customers can continue to shop with confidence in our stores, where they will see we have good availability,” he said.

“We can now serve twice as many people with home delivery and Click & Collect as we could six months ago.

“We can reassure our customers there is good availability for slots.”


Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Representatives from Asda echoed the calming suggestion of their supermarket counterpart and downplayed any of possibility of panic-buying being an issue.

“We’ve currently got good availability in our stores and the same can be said for our online slots,” a spokesman said.

“So, we wouldn’t comment on panic-buying in other stores.”

Aldi and Tesco

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

The likes of Aldi and Tesco are also said to be currently boasting a healthy availability of stock and produce within it stores and online, and shortages are not a worry.

Tesco, for example, is believed to have more than doubled its online capacity from around 600,000 weekly slots at the start of the crisis to 1.5 million.

Aldi, on the other hand, is continuing to manage the number of shoppers entering its store at any one time, and there are no plans to introduce product restrictions

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, has praised the work of supermarkets for how they have dealt with the pandemic.

“Retailers have done an excellent job in ensuring customers have access to food and necessities throughout this pandemic,” he said.

“Since March, retail businesses have strengthened their supply chains as well as investing hundreds of millions to make stores safe and secure for customers.

“Retail remains a safe space for consumers, even under future lockdowns.”

Mr Opie also reiterated the industry’s ability to cope with any future surge of people rushing out to buy essentials.

“Supply chains are stronger than ever before, and we do not anticipate any issues in the availability of food or other goods under any future lockdown.

“Nonetheless, we urge consumers to be considerate of others and shop as they normally would.”

Marks and Spencer and Lidl were contacted for comment, but referred the Gazette to Andrew Opie, the director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium

Morrison's did not reply.