Panic buying sent sales soaring by more than 50% at supermarkets last week as shoppers spooked by the coronavirus rushed out to stockpile everything from toilet roll to dried pasta (The Daily Mail). Coronavirus panic-buying brings strange boom for grocers. As shelves are stripped bare, the big supermarkets are scrambling to hold their supply chains together — while other retailers suffer (The Times £).
Vehicles, drivers and products from the catering trade are being switched to the retail supply chain as supermarkets race to restock shelves emptied by stockpiling customers (The Financial Times £). Job applicants to supermarkets have been given new roles on the same day to cope with the surging demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak (Sky News).
A shortage of lorries, drivers and workers and limited storage space is to blame for empty shelves in supermarkets rather than a lack of food supply, grocery bosses have said. (The Times £)
George Eustice, environment secretary, has claimed that British shoppers have bought an estimated £1bn of food that they have not yet eaten in a spate of panic-buying because of the coronavirus pandemic (The Financial Times £). MPs, academics, charities and those who work with vulnerable people are piling pressure on the government to ensure food and other essentials are reaching those most in need as concerns over the consequences of rampant stockpiling grow (The Guardian).
Many independent food stores across the UK are enjoying an unexpected sales bonanza thanks to the coronavirus outbreak as consumers tire of crowded and understocked supermarkets. (The Financial Times £)
Hitherto niche in the market, online food delivery businesses are suddenly seen at the centre of the solution to the universal threat of pandemic, as customers turn to online shopping and ordering more takeaway food than ever before. (The Telegraph)
Ocado’s stock spurt faces a big test in food security rethink, writes The FT. “Ocado’s operating model — high service, high capital intensity, inflexible and largely unproven — seems an odd fit for such a moment A bet on the shares, therefore, is a bet on things staying the same more than they change. Current uncertainties make that a brave call.” (The Financial Times £)
Supermarkets are struggling to maintain a dedicated ‘silver hour’ for the vulnerable as NHS workers and the elderly risk cross infecting each other and shelves are left bare by delivery blockages and panic buying. (The Telegraph)
Roughly half the meals we eat are eaten while we are at work or at school. The shutdown of restaurants has seen supermarkets forced to move from operating at 50% of capacity to 130%, according to John Vincent, the founder and chief executive of fast food chain Leon. (The BBC)
Ministers are parachuting in a former Nestle executive Chris Tyas to oversee a “war room” set up to ensure Britain’s food security following the coronavirus pandemic. (Sky News)
All McDonald’s restaurants in the UK and the Republic of Ireland will close by 7pm on Monday to protect the safety of employees and customers (The Guardian). All McDonald’s restaurants in the UK and Ireland will close by 7pm on Monday - in a move the fast-food company says is to protect the safety of its employees and customers (Sky News). McDonald’s and Nando’s to close all UK restaurants (The BBC).
More than 25 major high street chains are in crunch talks with landlords over a massive rent bill due to be paid by Wednesday as they battle to avoid axing stores (The Daily Mail). Retailers are at loggerheads with landlords over rent cuts and holidays, as looming bills threaten efforts to keep stores open and workers in jobs (The Telegraph).
The coronavirus pandemic is ravaging the UK high street, with clothing chain Primark on Sunday becoming the latest to announce it was closing all its stores (The Financial Times £).
Primark has sent shockwaves through the global fashion industry by cancelling all orders in production at factories, as the spread of the coronavirus threatens to wipe out swathes of the high street (The Times £). Primark’s 189 UK stores have closed “until further notice”, as demand drops due to social-distancing during the coronavirus pandemic (The BBC).
Marks & Spencer has warned that it will be “severely impacted” by coronavirus crisis and has taken drastic steps to shore up its balance sheet by axing its dividend, delaying £100 million of clothing orders and scrapping salary increases (The Times £). Marks and Spencer is preparing to ‘temporarily’ close some stores, slash investment, dividend and defer staff pay rises as it becomes the latest retailer to warn of the coronavirus outbreak’s severe impact on trading (The Daily Mail)
The coronavirus crisis threatens to disrupt Mother’s Day and Easter trading, prompting Hotel Chocolat to tap investors for £22 million in a share placing. (The Times £)
Restaurants and bars in limbo and wondering how they can survive, having been forced to shut with no idea of when doors can be re-opened. (The Telegraph)
The biggest concern for pub companies and their investors is liquidity. The sector has high leverage, often a legacy of reckless acquisitions in the noughties. Net debt as a ratio of ebitda is close to four times. Covenants will be pushed then breached as earnings plummet in the coronavirus lock down. (The Financial Times £)
The number of UK companies in financial distress has surpassed half a million, underlining the threat of a wave of business collapses from the coronavirus crisis. (The Times £)
The unusual nature of the crisis should shield businesses and consumers from the worst inflationary effects of the tumbling pound, analysts say (The Times £)
Factory and high street store closures after the coronavirus outbreak will push the UK into a deep recession this year, a study of the economy has concluded. (The Guardian)
The pet supplies chain Pets at Home is facing a social media backlash after it sent a letter asserting that its staff qualified for the coronavirus key workers list. (The Guardian)
Tim Lang, Britain’s leading expert on food policy, says we already faced a challenge unmatched since the war. And things just got worse. (The Guardian)
Taxi firm Uber will sell its Uber Eats takeaway delivery business to rival Deliveroo within two years, analysts believe. (The Daily Mail)