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Sainsbury's shut cafes and some food counters and limit number of items each customer can buy

Sainsbury's has announced a raft of measures to try to ease the rate of shelf emptying and reach out to elderly and vulnerable customers.

Food and toiletries have been rapidly disappearing off the shelves at its stores which has prompted the action. A customer from Lynn told the Lynn News that when he visited the Sainsbury's Hardwick store last night, it was stripped of practically all food.

CEO of Sainsbury's Michael Coupe set out the new directives which aim to distribute items more fairly. He said: "As we work to feed the nation, we are also focusing all of our efforts on getting as much food and other essential items from our suppliers, into our warehouses and onto shelves as we possibly can. We still have enough food for everyone – if we all just buy what we need for us and our families."

Shelf stocking at Sainsbury's (31878864)
Shelf stocking at Sainsbury's (31878864)

From feedback he has received he said there had been suggestions to reserve an hour in stores for elderly and vulnerable customers. In response, Sainsbury's will set aside the first hour in every supermarket tomorrow Thursday, March 19, for elderly and vulnerable customers.

Anyone who falls into this category or who has an elderly family member, friend or neighbour who would like to shop during this hour, should check online for their local supermarket opening hours.

For all other customers, supermarkets will open one hour after the published opening time.

The supermarket chain said it will also help elderly and vulnerable customers access food online. From Monday, March 23, online customers who are over 70 years of age or have a disability will have priority access to online delivery slots. Sainsbury's will contact these customers in the coming days with more details.

For any online customer who can travel to its stores, from Monday, March 23, it will operate an expanded ‘click and collect’ service. Sainsbury's are significantly increasing the number of collection sites across the country in preparation for this. Customers can place their order online as usual and pick it up from a collection point in the store car park. Customers should let Sainsbury's know if they are self-isolating to help it provide this service for them too.

To get more essential items onto the shelves, from tomorrow Thursday, March 19, Sainsbury's will be closing its cafes and meat, fish and pizza counters in supermarkets.

This will free up warehouse and lorry capacity for products needed.

Restrictions on some products take effect from today, when customers will be able to buy a maximum of three of any grocery product and a maximum of two on the most popular products, including toilet paper, soap and UHT milk.

"We have enough food coming into the system, but are limiting sales so that it stays on shelves for longer and can be bought by a larger numbers of customers," said Mr Coupe.

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