Supermarkets have once again apologised for empty shelves in stores because the “pingdemic” was putting a strain on supply chains.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose all said they were facing problems, blaming factors including a growing number of staff and delivery drivers being forced to isolate after supposedly coming into contact with someone with Covid-19.
Pictures on social media showed empty shelves in certain supermarkets. Shoppers reported shortages of meat, bread, fruit and vegetables as well as toilet paper.
Yesterday Waitrose put up notices in some of its stores apologising for the “limited choice” because of “nationwide supply issues”. Tesco told customers it was “working hard to resolve issues with its supply chain.” Sainsbury’s acknowledged that there was “patchy availability in a number of stores of some products”. Iceland confirmed that it would begin drafting-in an extra 2,000 people to fill temporary roles across its shops. The retailer has been forced to reduce opening hours this week because of staff absences.
Helen Dickinson, head of the British Retail Consortium, which represents supermarkets, today said the disruption is likely “to get worse” under the current rules. She said:
“Either the existing self-isolation rules need to change or something else in the wall of defences against the virus needs to be considered.”
Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meats Processors Association, said:
“Something is going to crack if workers at food production plants continue to be forced to isolate. If they lose too many in the production plants then they will have to close and shut down lines. Many businesses are saying they’ve never experienced anything like this. This is the worst we have experienced during the whole pandemic.”
Up to a million people have been instructed to isolate including about 618,903 who have been pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app in England & Wales in the last week.