British supermarkets have begun to impose restrictions on purchases of certain goods to avoid panic buying stemming from Coronavirus fears.
Over the past few days, Brits flocked to stores and websites of major chains to stock up on essential products such as toilet paper, canned food and sanitiser, after the British public health agency advised them to make preparations in case they needed to be quarantined for weeks.
The British Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Patrick Vallance, later tried to reassure the population, saying there was “absolutely no reason” for panic.
However, supermarkets have been taking steps against panic buying. The biggest British chain, Tesco, this weekend began limiting purchases to five units for pasta, antibacterial wipes, gels and long-conservation milk.
Tesco is the only supermarket chain to have imposed restrictions on food purchases. Others, like Waitrose, have limited online purchases of some wipes and soaps, while Asda, a Walmart daughter company, allows each buyer no more than two antibacterial gels in its stores or on the Internet.
Last week, the British pharmacy chain Boots restricted purchases of hand sanitiser, whose sales have skyrocketed with the novel Coronavirus epidemic. Hand sanitiser sales in Britain have tripled in recent weeks.
Sales of liquid soap and household detergents respectively went up by 7% and 10% in the 12 weeks ending on 23 February, according to a study published on Tuesday last by the Kantar cabinet, which specializes in distribution.
The Brussels Times