Three of the UK’s biggest grocery chains have warned shoppers that their online delivery slots are being snapped up like hot cakes and could soon run out in the short-term amid fears that the country could soon witness a return to the panic buying which wreaked havoc in the early weeks of Covid-19.
Ocado, Tesco and Sainsbury’s are once again being hit by an influx of home delivery orders as long predicted “second wave” hits the UK, with Dido Harding – the former TalkTalk chief who now runs the Test, Track and Trace programme – seemingly the only person in Britain who has not seen it coming.
Ocado has warned customers that delivery slots are “selling out faster than usual”, posting on its site that they should use the “next three days button to see available slots further in advance”.
Meanwhile, a statement on the Sainsbury’s website says: “Slots are still in high demand. We have been working hard to expand our service. More slots are now available and we are able to offer some of them to other customers.
“Customers who are vulnerable will get priority access and are able to book slots in advance of anyone else. We’re releasing new slots regularly so please check back if you can’t see any available.”
Tesco has also posted a notice on its delivery site late warning that while it was “releasing slots as and when they become available”, they “are filling up quickly”. The retailer added: “We ask those who are able to safely come to stores to do so, instead of shopping online, to help us prioritise slots for more vulnerable customers.”
The supermarkets will no doubt be hoping to nip any panic buying in the bud to avoid a repeat of the scenes that saw major shortages of staples, such as bread, flour, pasta, rice and toilet paper, run out as consumers went grocery crazy.
At the time, Tesco was forced to create 20,000 temporary roles to meet demand while Its online orders more than doubled to nearly 1.5 million customers a week, up from around 600,000 at the start of the pandemic. Asda also hired 5,000 new staff, while Lidl recruited 2,500.
Ocado customers fume as grocery orders are cancelled
M&S and Waitrose do battle as online groceries soar
Tesco beefs up Clubcard Plus with free online delivery
Supermarkets under pressure as Amazon Fresh expands
Waitrose expands drive-through scheme for Covid era
Aldi plots move into online shopping as market booms
Ocado boom to push M&S shoppers to back of the queue