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Coronavirus: Tesco to limit online orders to 80 items

Yahoo! Finance UK logo Yahoo! Finance UK 27/03/2020 Edmund Heaphy
a truck cake sitting on top of a car: A Tesco home delivery van.  (Photo by Rui Vieira/PA Images via Getty Images) A Tesco home delivery van. (Photo by Rui Vieira/PA Images via Getty Images)

Tesco (TSCO.L) said on Friday that online customers would now be limited to 80 items per order so that it can free up delivery slots for vulnerable customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The grocery giant was among several supermarkets on Friday to say that they would use UK government data to prioritise getting supplies to customers who were most at risk from the virus.

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It also comes after a leading think tank warned that the pandemic could quickly spiral into a “crisis of hunger,” with millions potentially needing food aid in the coming days.

“We know that it’s difficult to get a delivery slot for online shopping at the moment due to high demand, and we ask those who are able to safely come to stores to do so, instead of shopping online, so that we can start to free up more slots for the more vulnerable,” Tesco said on Friday.

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“We’re looking at every opportunity to increase the number of slots available and by introducing a limit of 80 items per online order we’ll be able to get more orders on to each van, helping us to ensure all customers can get the essentials they need.”

The company noted that, prior to the crisis, online orders had averaged around 60 items. But there has been a marked increase in orders of more than 100 items in recent weeks, it said.

The food ministry said on Friday that it was working with retailers to provide them with the information needed “to help ensure essential items are delivered as soon as possible to the people with medical conditions that make them most vulnerable.”

Asda said on Friday that it was also working with the government, while the chief executive of Iceland advised healthy people to “shop responsibly” in store to enhance online availability for those most in need.

“The prime minister urged everyone to use food delivery services wherever possible – the reality is that current demand vastly exceeds supply,” said Richard Walker.

The closure of restaurants and cafes, the surge in panic buying, and a reduction in emergency food provision during the coronavirus crisis has exposed the “extraordinary fragility of the food system,” according to the Food Foundation.

Rising food prices and supply chain shocks will compound the issues arising from the fact that many people have seen a drop in income and have become “much more limited” in how they obtain food, the think tank said.

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading - here is what you can and can't do. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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