Panic buyers strip shelves as England prepares for lockdown

Empty Shelves

In scenes reminiscent of the first lockdown in March, some supermarket shelves have begun emptying once more, ahead of the second lockdown in England.

Social media users have shared pictures of empty shelves where usually there would be toilet roll, bread, vegetables and meat, despite stores insisting there are no stock shortages.

All non-essential shops will close from Thursday, as England enters another strict coronavirus lockdown.

But food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open.

The lockdown is due to end on 2 December, with the government hoping to then reintroduce a localised tiered system of restrictions.

Maria White shopped at a Lidl in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, on Monday evening and said despite the supermarket not appearing as busy as during the first lockdown, seeing the empty shelves “triggered” other shoppers to buy extra items.

“A gentleman bought about 30 bottles of water of two litres each,” the 35-year-old told PA.

“Another lady grabbed about 10 packages of pasta and a few sauces.

“I think it’s a rather selfish and an unnecessary overreaction, given that the supermarkets and shops won’t close during lockdown and I believe… will have enough supplies.”

Ahead of the UK-wide lockdown in March, a number of supermarkets introduced limits on purchases of key items to counter the effects of stockpiling.

Some chains, including Morrisons and Tesco, reintroduced these measures in recent weeks as the rate of the virus’s spread increased – using policies such as three items per customer on some products.

Social media posts showed the dearth in essentials affecting a variety of other supermarkets, including Tesco, Morrisons, and Sainsbury’s.

Photos have also showed long queues of people with trolleys outside Costco in Leicester and Essex.

Supermarkets have repeatedly encouraged shoppers not to stockpile, with Lidl’s website telling customers: “Our stores are being replenished every day.

“That item you want to buy ‘just in case’, might be essential for someone more vulnerable who can’t visit the store multiple times.”

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We have good availability in stores and online, with plenty of stock to go round, and we would encourage our customers to shop as normal.”