Public urged not to panic buy as ‘pingdemic’ blamed for supermarket shortages

In supermarkets, ministers and business leaders have urged the public not to buy food and other essentials amid reports of empty shelves and supply shortages linked to the so-called pandemic.

Richard Walker, managing director of the Iceland chain, insisted that “there is no problem with the stock’s supply” and that panic-buying is “an option only for those who can afford it and often means that other go without”, while the major British retail consortium said there was still “a lot of food in the country”.

The trade secretary, Quasi Quarteng, issued a similar call for shoppers not to panic over supermarket shortages, despite warnings from retailers that the situation around the alert from the government’s COVID app was “unstable”.

Complaints about empty shelves in some supermarkets have risen in recent days, while lorry driver shortages are said to be adding to the pressure on the country’s grocery supply chain. Business disruptions due to Brexit are also hindering overseas deliveries.

Petrol stations in some areas are also running low on fuel, with BP shutting down distribution terminals after lorry driver shortages and staff being asked to isolate.

A Cooperative spokesperson said the supermarket was “running low on certain products” and was “affected by some glitches in our delivery and store operations”, while a Sainsbury’s spokesperson acknowledged that the retailer “may not always have the exact product”. Looking for a customer”.

Images reminiscent of the first lockdown surfaced on social media, when supermarket shelves were emptied by anxious shoppers, but business leaders have urged the public to remain calm.

The chief executive of the British Retail Consortium warned that some food retailers will be forced to close stores as the workforce is being asked to self-isolate.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Helen Dickinson said: “There will be many small businesses where they only have one or two employees and need to close their doors completely if they need to self-isolate.”

But she added: “The most important thing is that people do not panic because there is no need to panic, because there is a lot of food in the country.”

Mr Walker from Iceland told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The dramatic pictures you may have seen in the media are isolated incidents and not comprehensive.

“But the people who should panic are the government, and I believe that, you know, the sooner they address this mess, and put retail workers and HGV drivers on the key worker list. , its better.”

Mr Quarteng replied: “He was right to say that shoppers should not panic.

“I don’t know what he meant that the government should panic, I am panicking.”

Self-isolation rules after coming into contact with someone who is Covid-positive are not due to change until August 16.

A large number of businesses and industries have been affected by staff shortages in recent weeks.

Transport for London was forced to shut down the Metropolitan line on the Underground network after the app asked employees to self-isolate.

Restaurants, pubs and bars are also grappling with staff shortages.

A fifth of employees at companies are having to self-isolate after receiving a notification, and the number of people notified by the app in England and Wales recently exceeded 500,000 in a week.

Car giant Nissan has been affected at its plant in Sunderland and a spokesman for the British Meat Processors Association said some of its members had seen between 5-10 per cent of its employees ‘ping’ by the app.


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