Costco chaos: Mad dash for toilet roll as second lockdown looms

The Battle of Water-LOO ROLL: Mad dash for toilet tissue continues with droves of panic-buyers joining early-morning queues at Costco as second lockdown looms

  • Long queue s formed outside Costco in multiple UK stores as people stocked up
  • ‘Some people are definitely panic buying again,’ warns supermarket worker 
  • Stores say they are more prepared for demand than they were six months ago 
  • Tesco boosted its weekly online ordering capacity from 600,000 to 1.5million
  • Have you seen panic buying while shopping? Email [email protected]

Long queues formed at Costco today as shoppers raced to supermarkets to fill their trolleys with toilet roll as tighter coronavirus restrictions are expected to be announced. 

Shelves are also being emptied of pasta, rice and tinned goods as people prepare to hunker down at home. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce tightened restrictions in a speech later today.

Reports suggest these could include imposing a 10pm cufew on the hospitality sector and encouraging people to work from home again. 

Long queues formed at Costco in Chingford, north London, this morning amid concerns that the nation faces a second lockdown

Panicked shoppers are emptying the shelves of toilet roll amid fears a second coronavirus lockdown could be announced  (pictured, shoppers at Costco in Manchester)

These Manchester customers left Costco with stacks of loo roll as it emerged stocks of other essential items like pasta, flour and tinned goods are also selling fast

The frenzied buying has echoes of the empty shelves seen in March as shoppers stocked up on essential items ahead of the first nationwide lockdown

As customers flooded social media with pictures of empty aisles, one shopper declared: ‘It’s happening again’

His announcement comes after Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said yesterday the UK could hit 50,000 cases a day by mid-October and 200 plus daily deaths by November unless Britain changes course.

Amid growing concern that a second lockdown is on the way, shoppers have been emptying supermarket shelves of essential items.   

Toilet rolls, frozen food and long-life produce was wiped from the shelves in some stores in scenes familiar to March before lockdown was announced. 

As customers flooded social media with pictures of empty aisles, one shopper declared: ‘It’s happening again.’

But shoppers have been urged to restrain themselves from panic-buying, with retailers insisting there is not need for it. 

Extra security was on hand to police the growing queues as shoppers waited to get inside the Chingford Costco in north London to pick up essential items

People could be seen wearing masks as they queued outside Chingford Costco in London

The queues come after Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said yesterday the UK could hit 50,000 cases a day by mid-October and 200 plus daily deaths by November unless Britain changes course (pictured, Costco Chingford)

The queues could be seen stretching into the car park in this north London Costco branch

Shoppers left with stacked trollies, with one person at Costco Chingford leaving with multiple packs of bottled water

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said yesterday: ‘We urge consumers to be considerate of others and shop as they normally would.’

He played down the presence of panic-buying and paid tribute to the ‘excellent job’ of retailers to provide food during the pandemic.

Reassuring the public, he added: ‘Supply chains are stronger than ever before and we do not anticipate any issues in the availability of food or other goods under any future lockdown.’

But supermarkets are bolstering security at their doors and have doubled the number of delivery slots. 

Bulk and panic buying begins at Costco, Trafford Park, Manchester

There are concerns that a second wave of panic buying has already begun, with stocks of essential items like toilet roll running low. (Pictured: Tesco in Portsmouth)

Shoppers have taken to social media to share photographs of supermarkets with the shelves stripped bare (above, ASDA in London)

One woman was seen picking up 80 toilet rolls at a Tesco in Kennington, South London, today

Tesco has boosted its online ordering capacity to around 1.5million, but in its stores the shelves were emptying quickly today

Queues formed in some supermarkets as shoppers were met with empty shelves (Pictured: Asda on Old Kent Road, South London)

Supermarket staff and shoppers have started to notice shelves emptying, like these in Asda, South London, but retailers are playing down fears of a rise in bulk-buying

Britain’s biggest chains have made assurances that they have enough stock and delivery slots to last (pictured: empty shelves in Asda, south London)

Toilet roll stocks were getting low at a Tesco store in Surrey Quays, London, as social media users lamented the panic, with one user posting: ‘It’s happening again’

Checkouts were busy as people emptied their packed baskets and trollies amid warnings of panic buying over the weekend

One supermarket worker in Birmingham told The Mirror: ‘Some people are definitely panic buying again. We have 4,000 more items this weekend than we usually would. 

‘When the panic buying started months ago, we hadn’t experienced it. We are prepared now.’ 

Another tweeted today: ‘ I just finished my shift at work and witnessed so many customers panic buying again. Please don’t – there is no need for it!’ 

It comes as Morrisons announced it will be reinstating marshals at its doors to limit the number of shoppers coming in and out, while also reminding them to wear face masks.

Shoppers and workers have started to notice signs of panic buying returning to parts of Britain

Have you seen any panic buying?

Email [email protected] 

Concerned shoppers took to Twitter over the weekend to share photographs of their local supermarkets, showing shelves completely emptied of essential items.

One Twitter user shared photographs of an ASDA in London where cereals seemed in short supply, leaving shoppers with fewer brands to choose from.

Another shopper posted pictures of a Tesco in the West Midlands, where kitchen roll and toilet roll was in short supply – but had not been completely cleared out.

One person shared pictures on Twitter, writing: ‘This was my local Tesco! People are already panic buying once again! Even though supermarkets do stay open.’ 

An ASDA shopper said: ‘This is our ASDA it’s madness and as you say even though they are staying open.’

Shelves have started to empty at supermarkets today, including at Tesco Extra store in Bolton

Canned goods and other items were starting to disappear from the shelves at the Bolton store

Shoppers were also purchasing bags of pasta, amid warnings of panic buying in recent days 

Items starting to disappear from shelves 

  • Pasta 
  • Tinned tomatoes/tomato sauces
  • Toilet paper
  • Flour 
  • Other tinned goods 

And another person predicted that ‘It’s happening again’.

Tesco’s weekly ordering capacity has risen from 600,000 to 1.5million – but it remains fully booked until Wednesday.

Asda has increased its online delivery slots by 65 per cent – from 450,000 to 700,000.  

There are three-day waiting times for Ocado, while Sainsbury’s is experiencing high demand. 

Sainsbury’s revealed the number of Christmas pudding searches was four times higher than this time last year.

The online supermarkets pasted notices on their ‘pick a slot’ page warning customers the sites were experiencing high demand.

Ocado’s read: ‘Delivery slots are selling out faster than usual. If you can’t find a slot now, please use the ‘Next 3 days’ button to see available slots further in advance.’ 

A notice on Sainsbury’s delivery slots page said: ‘Slots are still in high demand. We have been working hard to expand our service.  More slots are now available and we are able to offer some of them to other customers. 

‘Customers who are vulnerable will get priority access and are able to book slots in advance of anyone else. We’re releasing new slots regularly so please check back if you can’t see any available.’

On Saturday, Tesco was fully booked until Wednesday with an available slots all priced at £5.50 – and there were no available spaces until Monday at Asda.

Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said:

‘Retailers have done an excellent job in ensuring customers have access to food and necessities throughout this pandemic. 

‘Since March, retail businesses have strengthened their supply chains as well as investing hundreds of millions to make stores safe and secure for customers; this includes perspex screens, social distancing measures and additional hygiene measures. As such, retail remains a safe space for consumers, even under future lockdowns.

‘Supply chains are stronger than ever before and we do not anticipate any issues in the availability of food or other goods under any future lockdown. Nonetheless, we urge consumers to be considerate of others and shop as they normally would.’ 

Concerned shoppers shared pictures of panic buying from stores in London and other parts of the country

The graphic above shows the break down of what Britons spent their cash on in the supermarkets when panic buying started back in March

The Prime Minister is now threatening to ‘intensify’ coronavirus restrictions as he blames the British public for the rise in cases – despite his repeated pleas for people to return to their desks and eat out at pubs and restaurants in a bid to resuscitate Britain’s economy. 

Government scientists have spooked Boris Johnson with warnings of hundreds of daily coronavirus deaths ‘within weeks’ as they said: ‘There is no alternative to a second national lockdown.’ 

Mr Johnson looks to ditch his Rule of Six and introduce fortnight-long ‘circuit breakers’ nationwide for six months, following claims that it was ‘inevitable’ that a second wave would hit the country.

The new approach to get the UK through winter would see it alternate periods of stricter measures, including bans on all social contact between households and shutting down hospitality and leisure venues like bars and restaurants, with intervals of relaxation. Schools will be shut as a ‘last resort’, a Whitehall source claimed. 

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