UK grocers aim to ease COVID-19 supply concerns with joint statement

Rival UK supermarket chains have taken a united front to easing their customers’ concerns about grocery supplies, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

With many consumers around the country stockpiling goods and leaving some supermarket aisles bare – images of which have been shared across social media, fuelling wider concern – the grocers issued a joint statement yesterday (15 March) for calm.

The statement, in the form of an open letter published in national newspapers on Sunday 15 March and Monday 16 March, reassures customers about the extra steps being taken by retailers, and calls on shoppers to be considerate in the way they purchase goods.

Coordinated by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the letter highlights how food retailers are currently working around the clock to help customers get the products they need. Despite this, several shop workers have reported incidents of abuse from the general public, as tensions have mounted in the aisles and at the checkouts.

The letter, in full, is accompanied by the logos of Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Lidl, Tesco, Aldi, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Ocado, Costcutter, is pasted below:

To our customers,
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.
We are working closely with government and our suppliers to keep food moving quickly through the system and making more deliveries to our stores to ensure our shelves are stocked. Those of us with online delivery and click-and-collect services are running them at full capacity to help you get the products you need when you need them.
We thank all our colleagues in stores and supply chains who are working day and night to keep the nation fed. 
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 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. 
We are doing all we can to rise to this challenge. Serving you and keeping you and everyone who works with us safe will always be our priority.

Over the weekend, shoppers also faced virtual queues to place online shopping orders amid the panic resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Speaking on behalf of the retailers, Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, commented: “Retailers are working incredibly hard to keep shops well stocked and deliveries running as smoothly as possible. In the face of unprecedented demand as a result of coronavirus, food retailers have come together to ask their customers to support each other to make sure everyone can get access to the products they need.”