Sainsbury’s is to loosen purchasing restrictions on most items from Sunday – excluding some high-demand essentials – but is introducing a policy of limiting one adult per household entering its stores.
In a letter to its customers, the Sainsbury’s chief executive, Mike Coupe, said that as panic-buying had largely subsidised supermarket shelves were now full throughout the day.
“People have been queuing to get into our stores when they open in the mornings, but customers are now finding they can shop at any time of the day and feel confident in finding most of what they need,” he said.
“Most people are now just buying what they need for themselves and their families. This means we now often have stock on the shelves all day and at the end of the day.”
Coupe said limits on the number of items customers could buy would start to be removed, although the three Easter egg limit had been scrapped immediately. Restrictions would remain on “the most popular items”.
“I am pleased to tell you that we will start to remove limits from Sunday,” he said. “Limits will remain in place on the most popular items which include UHT milk, pasta and tinned tomatoes.”
Earlier this week, supermarkets including Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons and Waitrose announced the relaxation of quantity curbs after a decline in the number of shopping trips as a result of the lockdown.
Coupe also said Sainsbury’s was to start to enforce a one adult per household rule to keep customers and store workers better protected from the virus.
“From today, we are asking everyone to please only send one adult per household to our shops,” he said. “This helps us keep people a safe distance apart and also helps reduce queues to get into stores. Our store teams will be asking groups with more than one adult to choose one adult to shop and will ask other adults to wait. Children of course are welcome if they are not able to stay at home.”
Coupe also said Sainsbury’s online grocery service had undergone a huge expansion from offering 370,000 home delivery and click-and-collect slots two weeks ago to 600,000 by the end of next week, with capacity set to grow further.
He said the grocer had offered priority online delivery to more than 450,000 elderly or vulnerable customers. “I apologise to customers who have been unable to get through to our online team,” he said. “The team is working at full capacity and we are doing our very best.”