Supermarkets bring in rationing as panic-buying returns

Andrew Cummings
September 27, 2020

The supermarket giant is attempting to stop people from bulk-buying essentials including toilet rolls, flour, pasta and anti-bacterial wipes, with customers told they can purchase a maximum of three of each item.

In March, coronavirus rationing was imposed by major chains after shoppers stockpiled £60 million of goods, with toilet rolls, bags of pasta and hand sanitiser among the first items to sell-out.

A Tesco spokesman said: "We have good availability, with plenty of stock to go round, and we would encourage our customers to shop as normal".

But "to make sure that everyone can buy what they need, we are introducing limits on a small number of products", he adds.


Supermarket groups told the BBC customers had not resorted to panic buying since the government's announcement but pictures on social media have shown empty shelves for items such as toilet roll and cereals.

Tesco has become the latest supermarket to place limits on the number of items shoppers can buy, following a similar move by rival Morrisons.

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said on Wednesday that panic-buying is "unnecessary" and added that it "creates a tension in the supply chain" that can be easily avoided.

Are other supermarkets rationing stock?


Morrisons admitted they would be reintroducing the measures in a response to a tweet from a customer.

When asked whether Sainbury's, another large grocery chain, would reintroduce product limits, a spokesperson told Business Insider: "We aren't now restricting products".

Tesco is following in the footsteps of its competitor Morrisons, which introduced limits on toilet paper and disinfectants on Thursday.

All you need to know about the new coronavirus restrictions However, supermarkets and retail groups have been quick to stress they have not yet experienced shortages and are urging customers to "shop as normal".


The other members of the big four chains, Sainsbury's and Asda, are yet to impose any restrictions.

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