Shelves are being stripped at supermarkets across Coventry as shoppers ignore calls to exercise restraint amid a rise in Covid-19 cases and new government restrictions.
Large queues built up inside stores this afternoon (Thursday), with Morrisons acting pre-emptively by reintroducing rationing for some household items.
Toilet roll, flour, bottled water and long-life food and milk were in particular demand.
Some retailers, including Iceland and Wilko, both in the city centre, also planned ahead by running promotions of discounted loo roll at the front of the stores.
At Morrisons on the Alvis Retail Park, shelves stocking bottled water were half empty, while display boxes of wet wipes had been completely stripped. Demand was also high for tinned food and paracetamol.
A notice on the toilet roll shelves said: “Making more items available for more customers.
“Toilet Paper is limited to a maximum of 3 items per customer.”
A large queue of up to 30 people had built up at the self-scan tills inside the store off the Holyhead Road.
At Wilko in Cathedral Lanes shopping centre toilet paper was also in high demand, with two shoppers stocking up on all they could carry.
Gaps had also started to appear on shelves at the Sainsbury’s Local nearby in the city centre, where queues were snaking back into the aisles.
A member of the staff said: “We’ve been busy, busy. I wouldn’t say people are panic buying but they are understandably concerned and they want to stock up.”
Fears of a fresh wave of panic buying has led Morrisons to bring in rationing on selected items, with a spokesman telling ITV News: “We are introducing a limit on a small number of key products, such as toilet roll and disinfectant. Our stock levels of these products are good but we want to ensure that they are available for everyone.”
Other supermarket chains called on the public not to stockpile, saying the supply chain would hold up.
In a letter to customers, Aldi boss Giles Hurley said: “There is no need to buy more than you usually would.
“I would like to reassure you that our stores remain fully stocked and ask that you continue to shop considerately.
“We have remained open for our customers throughout the pandemic and will continue to have daily deliveries, often multiple times a day, across all of our products.”
TV presenter Lorraine Kelly has sent a “plea from the heart” for people not to start panic buying in an appeal on her Wednesday morning ITV1 show.
The fears come as the government introduces new restrictions aimed at curbing a possible second wave of coronavirus.
From tonight, pubs, restaurants and bars will have to close at 10pm, with some academics saying even tighter curbs may have to follow in coming weeks in order to suppress the rising number of cases.