Britain’s biggest supermarkets have completely sold out of hand sanitiser as coronavirus panic-buying escalates.
Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose currently have no hand sanitiser SKUs available to buy online, with a total of 25 lines now listed as out of stock across the retailers [Edge by Ascential 4 March 2019].
In response to a search for hand gel online, Asda’s website states: “We are sorry, but none of these products are available at your store.”
Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, notes that “due to increased demand we have limited availability across our antibacterial ranges. We are working with our suppliers to secure more stock.”
Chemists and online retailers are also struggling with shortages. Ocado has sold out of 12 out of 18 of its hand sanitiser SKUs, while Boots has sold out of all but one of its 24 hand sanitiser SKUs online, despite rationing sales to two bottles per customer in recent days.
A spokesman for PZ Cussons, which owns the popular Carex brand, said supermarket shortages were down to huge demand for its products.
“We have significantly increased the production of Carex hand gel and hand wash products, with our manufacturing facilities working at full capacity in response to the exceptional demand being experienced,” he added. “We continue to work closely with our retail partners to ensure they are supplied as quickly as possible.”
Hi Meghan, unfortunately the store have fully sold out.— Morrisons (@Morrisons) March 4, 2020
DM me your postcode and I’ll check some other stores for you :) - Ben
Meanwhile, private sellers are profiteering from the shortages by selling hand sanitisers for inflated prices on eBay.
Several supermarket own-label hand sanitisers are being sold on the auction site for more than 10 times the original retail price.
Lidl Cien hand gel, which usually retails for 49p, is listed by one seller at £8 for a single 50ml bottle which has been purchased more than 400 times in the past 24 hours. Another has the same gel listed for £14.99 and has sold over 60 in the past day.
Aldi’s Lacura gel, which retails at 42p, is also available on eBay with one user selling almost 100 50ml bottles for £12.99 each.
It comes as the government has stressed the importance of washing hands frequently with soap and water to avoid the spread of coronavirus, advising Brits to use “an alcohol-based hand sanitiser” when that’s not possible, “particularly after taking public transport”.
The WHO confirmed this week that Covid-19 was deadlier than the flu. “Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died,” said WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. ”By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.”
Over 90,000 people worldwide have now been infected with the new virus, which has spread to 77 countries, and over 3,000 people have died.
However, Tedros insisted the global spread of the disease could still be controlled if countries around the world stepped up containment efforts.
In the UK, more than 80 cases have now been confirmed, out of over 14,000 people tested for Covid-19 so far.