The UK has gone crazy with panic buying amidst the Coronavirus outbreak.
I went to the supermarket this morning at 10am, when it opened. I struggled to find a parking space, there weren’t many trolleys left and inside was absolute carnage. By 10:15am the toilet roll aisle was empty. The pasta was all gone, the CAT LITTER, of all things, was almost empty. In true British style, the digestive biscuits were gone and the teabags were fast running out. I tried to snap a picture of a trolley, pushed by a lady, who was bulk buying bottled water. Seriously? We aren’t having our water supply cut off! What is wrong with people?! Tinned foods, long life everything and cereal was flying off the shelves. Fresh meat supplies were depleting fast and people were seriously hitting up the freezer aisles.
Now, not that I should have to justify my own reason for being there, but I have a family of six and we had genuinely run out of most things. We were in need of a full weekly shop. I stuck to buying just what we needed for one week and where things were running low, I opted for alternatives, knowing others may need certain items more than us.
It’s important that people remember… Shops aren’t fully running out. They all restock every night. But people need to stop the panic buying in order for supermarkets to keep up with the restocking.
So having experienced the stockpiling coronavirus craziness for myself, I thought I’d compile a post to help those of you yet to do your shopping.
Here are my tips on how to survive the supermarket and how to navigate the panic-buying phenomenon.
How to stockpile during the Coronovirus panic-buying
1. DON’T! Just don’t. Have some humanity. That’s it!
BUY ONLY WHAT YOU NEED!
If you panic-buy, you are contributing to the problem. You are causing vulnerable people to go without.
Shopping Tips during the Coronavirus Outbreak
Get There Early
If you have items you genuinely need, or need to do your family’s weekly food shop, get there early. Early hours of the morning or when the shop opens is your best chance of getting what you need. However, this is also the busiest time. Expect long queues and crowds. If you need Free-From foods, infant formula or other specialist items, you are going to need to get there early. If you have additional needs and can’t cope with crowds, I’d suggest going to a 24 hour supermarket in the small hours of the morning, when most people are asleep. Alternatively, get someone to go for you.
Try online shopping, but don’t rely on it!
Many people are being blasé about the whole thing and saying, “Oh I’m okay, I do my shopping online”. That’s a great idea, BUT not all supermarkets are keeping stock back for online shoppers. Be aware that you may only get a fraction of what you ordered because whilst people are panic-buying, even the “substitutions” are out of stock. The same rules apply to you too – don’t stockpile! Just because you’re ordering online and nobody can judge your basket, doesn’t meant you should over-order. Be fair.
Try an online shop first and make a backup plan for the items which aren’t delivered.
Buy Premium Brands If You Can Afford To
If you can afford it, buy premium brands. There are families living in poverty who don’t have that luxury. Parents with young children, elderly people, disabled people, single people, who are living in hardship and simply cannot afford to buy premium brands of products. If you aren’t struggling to pay your bills, buy the more expensive items and leave the budget brands for those living in poverty.
Check On Your Elderly Relatives, Friends Neighbours
Some people are less able to get to the supermarket and some are just outright frightened. I can’t blame them – the supermarkets are carnage right now. Get them to make you a list and go on their behalf, or accompany them to the supermarket. Our most vulnerable need to feel safe and protected and not alone. Show them that community spirit is still very much alive.
Food Banks are Suffering
People are so busy hoarding and stockpiling that they aren’t donating to food banks. Many food banks across the country are running out of toilet rolls, pasta, long-life milk and tinned foods. There are thousands of people in this country who rely on food banks, as they cannot afford to eat. If the food banks can’t help them, what help is there for those who are living in poverty?
Nobody chooses to go to a food bank. It’s humiliating and degrading. People don’t go there out of choice, they go there out of hardship and desperation. Empathise. Give up some of your stockpile and donate it to those less fortunate than yourself. If you’ve done your weekly shop already – go back to the shop and do a foodbank only shop. Check online at The Trussell Trust for your local foodbank and there will be a list of items which they are most in need of. My advice would be to deliver it there yourself. Whilst people are fighting over toilet rolls in supermarkets, I wouldn’t trust leaving them in a supermarket food drop box.
Be Polite and Be Kind
Remember that supermarket employees are working much harder than usual. They are probably having a really rough week, with customers panic-buying, making demands and complaining about stock levels. Remember to still be kind and courteous, They are all doing their jobs, as best as they can, in difficult circumstances.
Look out for other customers too. I came across an elderly lady, close to tears this morning. She was overwhelmed by the crowds and didn’t know the way to the toilet roll aisle. An equally overwhelmed gentleman couldn’t find the end of the queue and was worried he’d end up at a self service till. Open your eyes, look around you and help those who need it.
Help stop the panic-buying. Do your normal food shopping, without hoarding. Help those who are vulnerable or worried. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. See if you have any luck with online shopping, but have a backup plan. Donate to the food banks. Be kind. That’s it. Stop acting like animals. Stop panicking. Be human. The Coronavirus pandemic is frightening people enough, without you adding to their fear, by hoarding three years worth of pasta in your larder!