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Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest actions from UK retailers

| International retailers

UK retailers are taking immediate action to address the challenges created by the COVID-19 outbreak. In this article we round up the latest initiatives from the sector.

Prioritising vulnerable customers in-stores


Sainsbury's has set aside the first hour of trading in every supermarket for elderly and vulnerable customers. For all other customers, its supermarkets will open one hour later than advertised. At Tesco, older shoppers will be prioritised between 9-10am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Iceland is also offering time slots for older shoppers.

Customer buying restrictions

At Sainsbury's, customers will only be able to buy three of any grocery line and a maximum of two on the most popular products including toilet paper, soap and UHT milk. Tesco has introduced a three items only rule per customer on every product line and is removing multi-buy promotions. At Asda, a three items only rule has been introduced for most lines.

Counters and cafe closures

Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's are also closing in-store counters.  This will free up warehouse capacity for priority products and allow counter colleagues to be reallocated to more critical tasks.

Trading hours reductions

Cutting back store opening hours will help retailers to re-stock and clean stores, and allow staff to rest. Asda for instance is temporarily closing 24 hour stores between 12am and 6am. Tesco will close all stores at 10pm.

Focus on hygiene

Stores are being cleaned more frequently, particularly high traffic areas and equipment, such as tills, trolleys baskets and crates. At some Tesco stores distancing measure are being introduced at checkouts to prioritise more hygienic non-cash payments. Delivery drivers are being equipped with sanitizer sprays and wipes to ensure delivery operations remain clean and hygienic.

Increasing access to online deliveries

Sainsbury's is significantly increasing capacity for online deliveries and click & collect, and special procedures are being developed for those self-isolating. Asda is urging customers to consider less popular delivery times while  Sainsbury's is offering online customers aged 70+ or those who have a disability priority access to online delivery slots.

Customer behaviour

All retailers are encouraging customers to only buy what they need for themselves and their families to ensure that others don't go without. Customers are being urged to only contact customer call centres if their need is urgent so that they can prioritise the most vulnerable. They are also being encouraged to be respectful and show appreciation for hard working in-store staff who don't have the option of working from home and may need to respond to personal or family challenges connected to COVID-19.

(Note this story is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all retailer activities).


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