The UK’s supermarkets had their best month on record as panic-buying shoppers rushed to stockpile ahead of the country’s coronavirus lockdown, spending an extra £1.9bn on supplies (The Financial Times £). Supermarket sales surged to a record high in March consumers rushed to stockpile groceries and alcohol due to the coronavirus outbreak (The Telegraph).
Britons made nearly 80m extra grocery shopping trips in March – spending almost £2bn more on food and drink than in 2019 (The Guardian). British supermarkets enjoy boom ‘even higher than Christmas’ as stores raked in £10.8bn in March (The Daily Mail). UK shoppers spent an extra £1.9bn stockpiling groceries in the run-up to the coronavirus lockdown, according to figures for the industry (Sky News).
The UK faces a surge in food waste after supermarket sales jumped by a fifth and restaurants were ordered to close as part of the government’s measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic. (The Financial Times £)
Several supermarkets have loosened purchasing restrictions designed to prevent stockpiling during the coronavirus outbreak, as Tesco announced it could handle an extra 120,000 online orders per week (The Guardian). Aldi, Morrisons, Waitrose and Asda are easing restrictions on some of their products which were imposed in the wake of stockpiling earlier this month (The BBC).
Sainsbury’s has been accused of exploiting a loophole to keep Argos outlets open during the UK lockdown. (The BBC)
Two of the world’s biggest tobacco companies have agreed new multibillion-pound debt packages and reported no material downturn in trading, despite concerns about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on smokers. (The Times £)
Poundland is to mothball about one in 10 stores and lay off 250 head office staff as shoppers follow government advice and stay away from the high street. (The Guardian)
Domino’s Pizza UK has appointed the former head of Costa Coffee as its chief executive, more than a year after shareholders at the delivery group started pressuring the incumbent to quit (The Financial Times £). Domino’s Pizza Group has taken another big step in the overhaul of its board with the appointment of Dominic Paul as chief executive (The Telegraph). Domino’s has picked a former Costa Coffee man as its boss (The Daily Mail).
Banks have been told to drop all requirements for small business owners to guarantee personally government-backed loans made to their companies to help them stay afloat during the coronavirus crisis (The Daily Mail). Nearly a fifth of all small and medium-sized businesses in the UK are unlikely to get the cash they need to survive the next four weeks, in spite of unprecedented government support (The BBC).
Small farmers scramble for new buyers after disappearance of restaurants. As supermarkets and food delivery services come under strain, small farmers are looking for ways to sell directly to shoppers. (The Telegraph)
Uber’s Eats unit is accelerating its push into grocery delivery, striking new alliances with retailers including French supermarket Carrefour, as it looks to offset the decline in its ride-hailing business because of the coronavirus lockdown. (The Financial Times £)
A 6.2% increase in the national living wage came into effect on Wednesday – an increase announced at the end of last year and heralded by the government as “the biggest cash increase ever”. (The BBC).
The government has been warned it could be forced to abandon targets for ending low pay in Britain by raising the legal minimum wage, as the economic costs of Covid-19 mount. (The Guardian)
Investors are betting on chocolate being recession resilient as stressed-out snackers may well find themselves reaching for comfort food. But Lindt is more likely to be a victim of cuts in discretionary spending on luxury goods this year. In 2009, following the financial crisis, Swiss chocolate sales fell to 174,000 tonnes — 6% less than the previous year. A similar dip may take place this year. Easter sales will act as an early warning. (The Financial Times £)
Whole Foods workers organized a national “sick-out” protest on Tuesday, demanding that the grocery store give employees double their normal wages as “hazard pay” for working on the frontlines during a pandemic. (The Guardian)
California’s roughly 400,000 agricultural workers are deemed essential, but often without proper safety measures or guaranteed benefits. (The Guardian)
Nimbleness, flexibility and a focus on cash helped Asian companies weather the pandemic. “Whether victims or beneficiaries of the crisis, whether large or small, the unifying characteristic that buys time for many companies across Asia is a greater appreciation of cash.” (The Financial Times £)