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Shoppers urged not to panic buy as supermarket shelves stripped bare

PUBLISHED: 10:22 15 March 2020 | UPDATED: 08:59 16 March 2020

Huge queues at Morrisons in Norwich amid the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Alexis Chipperfield

Huge queues at Morrisons in Norwich amid the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Alexis Chipperfield

Alexis Chipperfield

Shoppers are being urged not to buy more than they need amid concerns over coronavirus-linked stockpiling as supermarkets in Norfolk see shelves stripped bare.

In a joint letter, UK food retailers appealed for customers to shop responsibly, so that others are not left without much-needed items.

Supermarkets have seen a surge in demand for essential items and long-lasting foodstuffs with shelves emptied of items like toilet rolls, pasta, tinned soup, baked beans and tinned tomatoes. Pictures posted on social media show empty shelves in branches of Tesco, Sainsburys and Aldi in Norwich, North Walsham, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

In its letter to customers British Retail Consortium members urged everyone to work together to ensure there is enough food and said retailers are currently working 'round the clock' to help customers get the items they need.

It said: 'We know that many of you are worried about the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).

'We want to let you know that we are doing everything we can so that you and your families have the food and essentials you need.'

MORE: 'We are well prepared': Norfolk public health director moves to reassure over coronavirus cases

The letter added: 'But we need your help too. We would ask everyone to be considerate in the way they shop.

'We understand your concerns, but buying more than is needed can sometimes mean that others will be left without. There is enough for everyone if we all work together.

'Together we will care for those around us and those who are elderly, vulnerable or choosing to remain at home.'

Firms are working closely with the Government and suppliers, and have arranged more store deliveries to ensure shelves are stocked, the letter added.

Emptied shelves at Tesco in Great Yarmouth following a huge surge in demand amid the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Danny HorrocksEmptied shelves at Tesco in Great Yarmouth following a huge surge in demand amid the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Danny Horrocks

Some stores have limited sales of some items.

Tesco shoppers are limited to buying no more than five of certain goods, including anti-bacterial gels, wipes and sprays, dry pasta, UHT milk and some tinned vegetables.

Waitrose has brought in a temporary cap on some items on its website, while Boots and Asda are restricting some types of hand sanitiser to two bottles per person.

Shelves stripped of pasta at Sainsburys in Queens Road, Norwich, as people stockpile over coronavirus. Picture: Abby HoffmannShelves stripped of pasta at Sainsburys in Queens Road, Norwich, as people stockpile over coronavirus. Picture: Abby Hoffmann

Signs in Sainsburys headed 'Think before you buy' says they are experiencing 'huge demand' for certain items and urges people to 'only buy what you need'.

MORE: Which Norfolk events are cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus?

In a tweet Aldi said: 'As we have seen an unprecedented demand across our range, we will be limiting customer purchases to four units on all products to ensure all of our customers have an opportunity to purchase them.'

It added: 'But we need your help too. We would ask everyone to be considerate in the way they shop. There is enough for everyone if we all work together.

Huge queues at Morrisons in Norwich amid the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Alexis ChipperfieldHuge queues at Morrisons in Norwich amid the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Alexis Chipperfield

'Together we can make sure we are looking out for family, friends, neighbours. Together we will care for those around us and those who are elderly, vulnerable or choosing to remain at home.'

Some food banks also say they have a shortage of basic items.

Waveney Food Bank said: 'Unfortunately due to a slow down in donations because of Covid 19 we are now almost out of fruit juice, UHT milk, sugar, pasta sauce, instant mash and powdered milk. If you can help by donating an item or more please do.'

Supermarket shelves have been stripped as people panic buy in preperation for quaratine. Picture: SubmittedSupermarket shelves have been stripped as people panic buy in preperation for quaratine. Picture: Submitted

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