Over the weekend, anyone visiting one of the thousands of supermarkets in the UK will have discovered unnerving scenes, as shelves dwindled in stock.
Toilet roll and dried pasta appear to be the main items that people deem 'essential' to stockpile during this outbreak, leaving others to struggle with their normal shop.
In a joint letter, UK retailers joined forces to remind customers to be considerate in their shopping, so that others are not left without much-needed items.
The major supermarket retailers published their letter in newspapers over the weekend. In it they said, “We know that many of you are worried about the spread of coronavirus. We want to let you know that we are doing everything we can so that you and your families have the food and essentials you need."There is enough for everyone if we all work together," the letter says.
This came as the big four supermarket brands - Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, and Morrisons - have begun requesting that customers plan ahead with their home deliveries and insist that they let delivery staff know if they are self-isolating.
Putting buying limits in place
Asda, Tesco and Morrisons have been updating their delivery service policies, as well as limiting what people can bulk buy in store and online.
Tesco sent an email to Clubcard members today (16 Mar) explaining some changes that customers should expect, both in-store and online.
The email read, "We understand what a worrying time this is, so we want to make sure that essentials are available to as many customers as possible, and that we can keep delivering to you safely."
The company also stressed that online delivery slots were booking out fast and to "plan ahead" if you need to get your food delivered.
"As there may be more customers than normal booking deliveries, you may find that there aren’t as many slots available, so it’s a good idea to try and book further ahead," the supermarket advised.
"Don’t forget, you can make amends to your order up until 11.45pm on the day before your delivery."
What if I am self-isolating?
When you order online, Asda, Tesco, and Morrisons now ask that you write in the delivery instructions box if you are self-isolating due to suspected coronavirus.
Tesco has also instructed its fleet of delivery drivers to ask customers if they are self-isolating. The retailer added in its statement, "So please don’t be offended if you’re asked."
As more people may have to self-isolate, it is likely that demand for deliveries will increase, but there are only so many delivery slots in a day for customers to book.
Drivers from major supermarkets will sign orders for you after checking you are happy with what you have received, so that you do not need to touch anything unnecessarily. They can also arrange with you a place where they can leave the delivery so you can pick it up rather than the delivery driver coming into contact with you and potentially contracting the virus.