Supermarkets pile up amid fears of new coronavirus lockdown in UK
Supermarkets in Coventry and Warwickshire have reportedly started stocking groceries in anticipation of a new Covid-19 lockdown as the Omicron variant continues to spread rapidly.
Anxious to avoid a repeat of the chaotic scenes of last year’s March, when unprepared for a wave of panic shopping that saw shelves stripped down, Britain’s biggest food retailers are scrambling to keep a step ahead.
A senior source from one of the Big Four supermarkets told The Times: âWe are budgeting for a foreclosure. We’ve increased orders on the 2,000 most commonly purchased linesâ¦ everything people tend to buy when they enter them. kinda weird survival mode. “
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Another retail boss said his business aims to keep two more weeks of inventory over what would normally be the case before the New Year.
He said: âThe NHS will be overwhelmed if the government doesn’t lock downâ¦ the numbers speak for themselves.
“We expect a lockdown will come in January and we don’t want to end up with empty shelves anymore.”
The rapid spread of Omicron, a highly transmissible variant first identified in South Africa, has pushed Covid cases to record levels in the UK and fueled fears the NHS could be inundated with patients after households mingled during the Christmas holidays.
Government officials are making plans for a two-week “breaker” lockout after the holidays, although no official decision has yet been made.
Driven by exceptional trading before Christmas, supermarkets are now bracing for a second surge in demand at a time when widespread staff absences could be widespread.
The situation may well mirror that observed during the summer pandemic which forced thousands of workers to self-isolate.
Ian Wright, Managing Director of the Food & Drink Federation, said: âThere will be a significant build-up of inventory this year because supermarkets will expect people to stay home.
“Customers will likely live and work from home in January, so they’ll be stocking their pantries and refrigerators.”
Representatives of trade organizations in the food industry reportedly received data from the Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last week.
The figures suggest that widespread infections would cause significant disruption to operations in the supply chain in the first two weeks of January.
Because Omicron’s spread has been so rapid, it is believed that the current wave may not last as long as previous ones.
Sales soared 50% in March as panic buying swept the country.
Supermarket bosses don’t expect the same kind of rush for consumers, which is just as good considering there could be additional complications in the supply chain caused by shortages of truck drivers. and backlogs in UK ports.
Asda revealed in November that it had chartered its own freighter to make sure Christmas toys and decorations arrived at its stores.
Now Tesco is importing fresh food from Europe via refrigerated rail services to help bypass shortages of truck drivers.
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