Iceland, Tesco, & Sainsbury's warn shoppers not to 'panic buy' amid empty shelves crisis

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New pictures on social media this week show empty shelves across the country as supermarkets face a severe lack of staff. Employee shortages due to the “pingdemic” have contributed to the crisis.

Tesco is among the supermarkets that have recently issued a statement confirming product shortages in their stores.

The company said it was experiencing “temporary low availability across a small number of products”, but customers should not stockpile because “overall availability remains good”.

Meanwhile, a Co-op spokesperson said: “We are sorry that we are running low on some products.

“Like many retailers, we are impacted by some patchy disruption to our deliveries and store operations but we are working closely with our suppliers to get re-stocked quickly.”

He told Radio Four’s Today programme this week: “There is certainly no problem with supply of stock.

“Panic-buying is only an option for those who can afford it and it often means that others go without.”

The Iceland boss added: “We’ve now got over 1,000 staff off, who’ve been pinged. That’s double the normal rates, and it’s rising at 50 percent week on week.

“Our big concern is that we’ve kept all of our shops open throughout the pandemic, but now we have had to close one or two shops and reduce hours in others.

“But that could get a lot worse a lot quicker, unless the country’s system is sorted out.”

Lidl also commented on the crisis, stressing that its team is “working hard” to get shelves back to normal.

A spokesperson for the discount retailer said: “Like all other retailers, the situation is becoming increasingly difficult as we have more and more colleagues having to self-isolate after being notified by the Track and Trace system.

“Whilst this is starting to have an impact on our operations, our teams are working hard to minimise any disruption to customers.”

Supermarket depot workers and food manufactures will now be exempt from quarantine rules, it has been confirmed this morning.

The Government hopes the move will ease the “pingdemic” and alleviate the current pressure on supermarkets.

Boris Johnson’s cabinet has said workers, regardless of vaccination status, could do daily Covid tests instead of self-isolating.

However, the new rule will not yet apply to supermarket staff.

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