--Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury to cap unitary purchases for food items and other basic necessities

--Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury to close non-essential such as vertical counters, cafes, and salad bars

--Morrison to hire 3,500 new employees as part of its strengthening of home delivery services

 

By Matteo Castia

 

Tesco PLC said Wednesday that it would put numerical restrictions on unitary purchases per client and that it would close its non-essential verticals "in order to protect the core shopping essentials" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.K.'s largest grocer by market share said it would ask its customers to buy no more than three units each of any product line, and that it would halt operations at its meat, fish and deli counters, as well as salad bars.

"We have seen significant and prolonged increases in demand across all of our stores and this is leading to shortages in some products," Tesco said.

Tesco also said that early hours on certain days would be reserved for senior shoppers to better protect the elders, while night trading would be suspended altogether to ensure timely re-stocking.

"We now have to accept it is not business as usual," the company added.

Over the same concerns, Walmart Inc.'s U.K. business Asda Group Ltd. said Wednesday that it is capping to three the number of units of basic products that can be bought by each customer. Affected items involve food, cleaning and toiletry products. The company added that it is reducing vertical services as part of its response to the spreading virus.

"Whilst we are doing everything we can to maintain the availability of products, we are asking our customers to shop responsibly so that everyone has access to the essentials," Asda said.

Furthermore, in order to re-stock shelves as quickly as possible, night opening hours are being suspended in all stores, Asda said.

To bear the increasing demand for home delivery, Asda also said it "would ask customers who can be flexible in their delivery slots to consider less popular delivery times."

Facing similar pressure, U.K. grocer Wm. Morrison Supermarkets PLC said Tuesday that it would strengthen its delivery service and will hire 3,500 new employees ad hoc in a bid to do so.

Similarly to Asda and Tesco, J Sainsbury PLC said earlier Wednesday that it would limit the number of units that each customer can buy to three for any grocery item and to two for the most popular products, including toilet paper, soap and UHT milk.

Both Asda and Sainsbury said that they are set to temporarily close their cafes and vertical counters to focus on essential services.

Outside the 'big four' group, Marks & Spencer Group PLC said Wednesday that it has adopted measures to battle the pandemic. The retailer said it is shifting more personnel towards its food operations from its clothing and home units, in an effort to focus resources on grocery.

 

Write to Matteo Castia at matteo.castia@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 18, 2020 14:28 ET (18:28 GMT)

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