Tesco reduces opening hours as shoppers ignore calls to stop panic buying

Tesco to reduce opening hours as people continue to panic buy (Picture: Getty/PA)

Tesco is set to stop 24-hour trade as British shoppers continue to strip shelves bare in a buying frenzy.

Bosses at UK’s biggest supermarket have decided to close all 24-hour stores at 10pm and reopen them at 6am.

Staff are said to have been informed this afternoon of the move, according to sources.

The firm has declined to comment officially but it is believed to start tomorrow.

Details are being updated online with new store opening times, and it is believed some larger 24-hour stores that have pharmacies will remain open beyond 10pm.

Consumers leave shelves empty in a London Morrison’s store as panic-buying over coronavirus continues (Picture: Getty)

The decision comes as the Government announced a business rates holiday for all retailers and the leisure industry.

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Supermarkets have seen a surge in shoppers stocking up on essentials, and said supply chains are working well. However, there have been reports of abuse aimed at staff.

On Sunday, the food industry appealed to shoppers to stop panic buying, placing adverts in national newspapers. But it hasn’t worked.

Shelves were on Tuesday stripped bare of items such as eggs and chicken, while freezer chests were emptied.

‘It’s getting worse,’ said a source at one of Britain’s major supermarket groups.

Empty shelves in a Tesco Extra in Worthing, West Sussex, the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on people to stay away from pubs, clubs and theatres, work from home if possible and avoid all non-essential contacts and travel in order to reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic (Picture: PA)

Britain’s big grocers, including market leader Tesco , Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Morrisons , along with discounters Aldi and Lidl, have struggled for over a week to keep shelves stocked.

Britons have been stockpiling cupboard items such as dried pasta, flour, canned food, toilet rolls and hand sanitiser.

Store trading levels have been close to those only seen at Christmas, the busiest time of the year, while online grocery operations have been struggling to meet vast demand.

A second source added: ‘The level of panic buying is definitely not getting any better.’

Morrisons revealed a series of packages to protect staff and announce an expansion of its online operations – including 3,500 new jobs.

Aldi on Monday became the first grocer to introduce rationing, limiting customers to buying four items of any one product during each visit.

The supermarket industry says it is working closely with suppliers to keep food moving through the system and is making more deliveries to stores to get shelves re-stocked.

It says supplies are still coming in from Europe, despite lock-downs in Italy, Spain and France.

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