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Tesco is one of the retailers restricting sales of items such as toilet roll
A government minister has said there is "no need" for coronavirus stockpiling, as worried shoppers clear shelves. Tesco and Waitrose are among retailers restricting sales of essential food and household items, in-store or online.Shoppers have reported shortages of items such as toilet roll and hand soap at their local stores.Defra will speak to big retailers later on Monday to discuss how they are responding to the virus, after the number of UK cases hit 278.Several shops have introduced sales restrictions on certain items, to ease the flow of supply.
At Tesco, shoppers are limited to buying no more than five of certain goods, including antibacterial gels, wipes and sprays, dry pasta, UHT milk and some tinned vegetables.Waitrose has brought in a temporary cap on some items on its website, including some anti-bacterial soaps and wipes.Meanwhile, Boots and Asda are restricting some types of hand sanitiser to two bottles per person.
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According to a survey from Retail Economics, as many as one in 10 UK consumers is stockpiling, based on a sample of 2,000 shoppers, leading to reports of bare shelves.Retailers have reassured the government they have contingency plans in place and are monitoring supply chains to minimise disruption.Defra will meet the bosses of major chains and supermarkets on Monday afternoon to discuss their response to coronavirus.The meeting will also discuss how to support "vulnerable groups who may be in isolation".Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the government was in constant contact with the big retailers."There is absolutely no need for anybody to stockpile or anything like that," he told the BBC. "We are confident that supermarkets have the supply chains necessary to keep shelves stocked for people."The number one thing is to ensure we work with the supermarkets and others to ensure that their supply chains are there, that the shelves keep being restocked as people purchase things.""And secondly, to reassure people that there is really no need to [stockpile]. We are confident the supermarket supply chains can keep refilling the shelves."I understand people's concerns if they go to the supermarket and see that… products are not there. There really is no need to buy things in volume."
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