Swathes of customers raced to bulk-buy household essentials this morning ahead of a second national lockdown next week.
Supermarket shelves across the UK were emptied of loo roll, pasta and tinned goods as desperate Britons prepared to hunker down at home for the next month.
The scenes come after Boris Johnson was last night catapulted into announcing a total four-week shutdown for England from Thursday until December 2 amid a rise in coronavirus cases across the nation.
Today Michael Gove suggested that England could spend Christmas in full lockdown if the four-week November shutdown did not bring the rates of transmission in the country down.
Shelves are emptied of toilet rolls at a Tesco store in Grimsby as sawathes of customers race to bulk-buy household essentials this morning
Shoppers race to buy loo roll after Boris Johnson announced a total four-week shutdown for England last night
Packets of pasta appear to be running low at a Tesco store in Surrey Queues, South East London
Hundreds waited outside Costcos in Manchester, London and Southampton, while shelves were stripped of loo rolls at Poundland in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.
Meanwhile at a Tesco store in Surrey Queues, south east London, shelves of pasta appeared empty as customers rushed to purchase the food item.
Lorraine Foster, who went to a Costco in Sudbury to pick up some Halloween treats, said: ‘The queue was enormous, it’s ridiculous. I think people are just starting to get a bit anxious now with the new restrictions about to come.’
Meanwhile, Ocado delivery slots were also in high demand, with the online supermarket saying it was ‘selling out faster than usual’.
Big chains such as Tesco and Asda said it was too early to tell whether people had regressed to the panic-buying of earlier in the year and reassured customers that they had plenty of stock to deal with increased demand.
Sainsbury’s said: ‘We aren’t currently restricting products. Customers can continue to shop safely and with confidence in our stores, where they will see we have good availability.’
A Tesco spokesman added: ‘We would encourage our customers to shop as normal.’
However, there were signs on social media that some customers were stocking up, with Twitter user Sinead Johnson saying: ‘I popped into Asda to get a few bits for my Halloween movie night and half the shelves were empty already. The panic buying has started.’
It is understood that supermarkets were given no advanced warning of a national lockdown. One source said: ‘The Government has blindsided us again.’
Today Michael Gove suggested that England could also spend Christmas in full lockdown if the R rate across the country did not fall enough.
Appearing on Sophy Ridge on Sky News, the Cabinet Office Minister defended the Prime Minister’s latest move and said that over November the Government would review the data.
Customers empty the shelves of toilet roll at a Waitrose store in north London following the announcement of a second national lockdown
Shelves of toilet paper are emptied as shoppers rush to the stores ahead of a four-week national lockdown
Customers empty the toilet paper shelves as a Tesco store in Surrey Queues following the Prime Minister’s announcement
Shelves of pastas are emptied as shoppers prepare to hunker down at home for the next month
Shoppers queue outside a Costco wholesale store in Leeds as the country prepares to enter a second national lockdown
Shoppers rush to buy good at a Tesco store in Grimsby after the Prime Minister announced a four-week shutdown for England from Thursday until December 2
Panic buying is back as people at Costco Manchester push trolleys in the rain today
Hundreds waited outside Costcos in Manchester, London and Southampton. People are seen buying toilet rolls at Costco Watford
Asked if the national lockdown could be extended, he replied: ‘Yes.’
He said: ‘We want to be in a position where we can – and I believe that this is likely to be the case – have an approach where if we bring down the rate of infection sufficiently we can reduce measures nationally and also reduce measures regionally.
‘Because the regional approach is one that, wherever possible, we want to take because again we recognise it may be the case in the future that having reduced R below 1, having reduced national restrictions, we may see a specific upsurge in specific areas which will require specific regional measures.’
But he added: ‘We are going to review it on December 2 but we will always be driven by what the data shows.’
Shoppers braved atrocious weather in Southampton yesterday to stock up on household essentials ahead of the lockdown
Mr Gove also explained that it would the Government had a ‘clear plan’ over the next four-week period to support the economy and to protect the NHS.
He continued: ‘With a virus this malignant, and with its capacity to move so quickly, it would be foolish to predict with absolute certainty what will happen in four weeks’ time, when over the course of the last two weeks its rate, its infectiousness and its malignancy have grown,’ he said.
‘And so therefore of course we will review what requires to be done but we have a clear plan over the next four-week (period) to support the economy and to protect the NHS.’
Last night the Prime Minister was was forced to rush into his announcement of a second national after his plans were leaked from a secret ministerial meeting.
The leak meant that the shutdown was on the front pages before the rest of the Cabinet had been told about the decision.
Has the panic buying started already? Britons flood internet with memes as they stock up on ’emergency wine’ and tell of plans to rush to the barber as new lockdown looms
- Cabinet source told Mail the return to lockdown will be announced next week
- Social media users have shared memes despairing about the new restrictions
- They joked about running out of toilet roll and others about stocking up on wine
by Emer Scully and Joe Davies for MailOnline
Panic buying was back in the UK today as despairing Britons rushed to nearby supermarkets to stock up on loo rolls amid news the country could be heading into a second national lockdown next week.
Jokesters took to twitter to share funny memes about bursting through piles of toilet roll and filling their shopping trolley with booze.
It comes after a Cabinet source told the Mail the dramatic move to return the entire country to tougher coronavirus restrictions will be announced next week.
While most supermarkets have not reported an increase in sales yet, queues had formed outside Costco in Manchester this morning.
Toilet rolls were piled high in some customers’ shopping trolleys while a long line of shoppers snaked around the store.
Joksters took to twitter to share funny memes about bursting through piles of toilet roll and filling their shopping trolley with booze
Lidl has warned it will take action to stop bulk buying if shoppers try to take more than their fair share.
A spokesman said: ‘We hope all customers remain mindful of others when shopping with us to ensure everyone continues to have access to the products they need.
‘Nonetheless, it is at our store managers discretion, should customers start to bulk-buy, to limit the purchasing of specific items at that store.’
And Tesco urged shoppers to continue as normal amid threats of a second national lockdown.
A spokesman said: ‘We have good availability in stores and online, with plenty of stock to go round, and we would encourage our customers to shop as normal.’
This morning Twitter was flooded with memes of panic shopping as people geared themselves up for an intense few days.
While most supermarkets have not reported an increase in sales yet, queues had formed outside Costco in Manchester this morning
Lidl has warned it will take action to stop bulk buying if shoppers try to take more than their fair share. Pictured, shoppers at Costco in Manchester this morning
A woman piled rolls of toilet roll into her trolley before heading home from Costco in Manchester earlier today
Alongside an image of an Asda storefront, one wrote: ‘My morning in three acts. Act 1: Wake up and see #UKLockdown is coming. Act 2: 8.05am I’m not going to be one of those idiots panic buying. Act 3 9am.’
Another said: ‘People be going out panic buying toilet roll, while I’ll be in the beer aisle filling up me trolley #lockdown2’
One tweeted: ‘Panic buying juice bombs like it’s 2020 #craftbeer.’
Another added: ‘People will no doubt be panic buying Baileys and bog roll this weekend.’
Brian Roe said: ‘Get ready for the great bog roll rush pt2, starting today at a supermarket near you. Also starring pasta, hand sanitiser and tinned tomatoes. Get there early to avoid massive queues of stupid people.’
The queues at Costco in Manchester snaked around the building and into the car park
This morning Twitter was flooded with memes of panic shopping as people geared themselves up for an intense few days
Scientists from the Sage committee yesterday presented No 10 with bleak figures showing that Covid is spreading ‘significantly’ faster than even their original ‘worst-case scenario’ prediction.
Responding to reports of a national lockdown to be announced for England next week, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:
‘There is no circumstance in which any retail premises should have to close in a second national lockdown.
‘In April and May, ‘non-essential’ shops were losing £1.6 billion a week in lost sales; now that we are entering the Christmas shopping period, these losses are certain to be much bigger.
Boris Johnson is expected to announce a national lockdown next week after his scientific advisers told him it was the only way to save Christmas
‘The Government should consider very carefully any decision to close ‘non-essential’ retail.
‘It will cause untold damage to the high streets this close to Christmas, cost countless jobs, and permanently set back the recovery of the wider economy, with only a minimal effect on the transmission of the virus.’
Last night a Cabinet source told the Mail that the dramatic move will be announced next week.
It was not clear exactly what form the new lockdown would take, or what would be ordered to close or how long it would last.
The Government now faces a critical weekend to determine the shape of the measures before an announcement.
Social media users joked they were preparing for a hunt for toilet paper in the days leading up to the second lockdown
The Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are said to have agonised over the decision because of fears it would leave the economy in tatters.
But the scientists – backed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and senior minister Michael Gove – told them the virus was on track to kill 85,000 this winter, and that it was too late for a so-called ‘circuit break’.
They called for a longer national lockdown – similar to the month-long shutdown in France – saying it was the only way to stop hospitals from running out of beds.
In a clear signal of the deep Government split on the issue, a Cabinet source said those opposed to a lockdown were ‘not prepared to surrender’.
Despairing Britons rushed to stock up on ’emergency wine’ and book haircuts it was announced Boris Johnson is expected to announce a second national lockdown next week
Details of the lockdown row emerged after the Mail disclosed how the Prime Minister has been warned by scientists – led by Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance – that all hospitals in England will be full by December 17 unless he took more action.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: ‘We aren’t currently restricting products. Customers can continue to shop safely and with confidence in our stores, where they will see we have good availability.
‘We continue to prioritise elderly and vulnerable people for home delivery. We have more than doubled the number of slots we can offer across home delivery and Click & Collect and can now serve over 700,000 orders a week. This means there is good availability for everyone.’
Meanwhile, the public is strongly against bans on buying non-essential items in supermarkets during lockdown, a survey has revealed.
Shoppers were left outraged after items such as clothes, electrical appliances and toys were branded ‘non-essential’ by the Welsh Government.
Now a survey has revealed that the Welsh public oppose the move which was brought in as the country was plunged into a ‘firebreak’ lockdown last week.
The Survation poll found 59 per cent rejected the shopping restrictions – although they backed the purpose of the two-week firebreak lockdown.
A significant 67 per cent of people aged over 55 said they ‘strongly opposed’ or ‘somewhat opposed’ the ban on non-essentials.