Supermarket stock levels are beginning to stabilise in the wake of measures to limit purchasing and enforce social distancing in stores, as well as shoppers taking heed of advice to stay at home.
This week, as well as blanket purchasing restrictions, most retailers installed Perspex screens at checkouts, imposed limits on numbers allowed in stores, introduced directional floor markings and new signage to control flow. All this has helped calm the shopping experience.
“The fear factor has also come into effect with a lot of people reducing their shopping to a minimum and living off their stocks at home as long as they can,” said one source. “It’s not exactly a pleasant experience in store and that’s calming things stock-wise.”
BRC director of food Andrew Opie said: “It’s definitely calmed down.
“We have definitely seen a fall-off in demand and that’s given an opportunity to replenish the shelves.
“There is plenty of food in store at the moment, which is testament to the very hard work of retail colleagues.”
One supermarket source added: “We have definitely had a stabilising of demand this week. Our social distancing plans have been warmly welcomed by customers and staff. Last week was the peak and so far this week has been stabilising.”
Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said: “We expect demand to ease in the next week, with perhaps more of a focus upon perishable goods rather than longer-life, ambient, frozen and household.”
But he said he still expected demand to be up in double digits “for as long this situation persists”.
“The British food system is now in a new norm, a temporary one, the length of which will be determined by the trajectory of the invisible coronavirus.”