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Coronavirus: Praise for supermarket 'heroes' keeping the shelves stocked amid panic buying

By Dominic Robertson | Welshpool | Business | Published:

Workers at Shropshire's supermarkets have been praised as "heroes" for their efforts to keep shelves stocked in the wake of crazed panic buying caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Supermarkets across the country have seen shelves stripped as shoppers stock up on items, with a number of large stores bringing in policies that limit customers to a certain number of any one product.

The unprecedented situation has seen special hours introduced for elderly people to shop away from the younger population, and altered opening hours to allow shelves to be restocked.

Harry Delves, commercial director of Tuffins, which has stores in Craven Arms, Welshpool and Builth Wells, said stores were facing difficult times but that there were no problems with the amount of food as long as people take a sensible approach and do not buy more than they need.

He said: "I think there is an element of panic out there but I think the thing everyone needs to be really aware of is they need to have some patience, we are trying as best we can across all supermarkets.

Harry Delves and Jackie Emberton refill shelves at Tuffins in Craven Arms

"Supply chains are stretched but supplies are coming through the door but you just have to be patient. People should buy what they need, take others into consideration and if you do just buy what you need as you go it will be fine."

Mr Delves said workers at all supermarkets should be praised for their heroic efforts to keep the shelves stocked.

He said: "I know a lot of people have said a lot about bulk buying in particular over the last few weeks but at the end of the day the heroes in this matter are the staff, they are all working their absolute socks off and they should be commended.

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"That goes the same for every supermarket, where staff are putting whatever they can into making sure people can get what they need."

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The owners of Stans Superstore in St Martins have also praised their customers for showing restraint during the panic buying.

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Andrew Faulks said that while the store had been twice as busy as in the lead up to Christmas and, while there had been some gaps on the shelves, shoppers had generally been "well behaved".

"Unlike Christmas there is no sign of this ending," he said.

"We have put signs up saying 'no bulk buying' and this has been observed. We have three container loads of new stock on its way."

Mr Faulks said the store had had incredible support from staff and also from customers and retired staff ringing or calling in offering to help during the crisis.

He added: "We are doing a free delivery service for our customers over the age of 60 and we have had lots of people volunteering to get involved in this or in other ways."

Meanwhile supermarkets in Shrewsbury did their best to organise customers as people flocked to stores ahead of the schools closing.

Staff at Tesco in Battlefield did an excellent job of organising queues, while customers appeared polite and patient, though the shelves had been ravaged of hand sanitiser, pasta, rice, baby food and fresh items.

Debbie Parry from Sundorne said: "I came last night as well. I don't think they've had chance to fully re-stock. It's fine if people don't mind living off Easter eggs for the next month, but it's not looking great. People need to be a bit more considerate."

Elsewhere, it was reported that people had to queue to even get into Sainsbury's at Meole Brace.

David Brown, from Belle Vue, said: "I only wanted to get baby formula for my three-month-old. I've been to all the shops. It's an absolute nightmare."

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