Sainsbury's to ease coronavirus shopping restrictions

A billboard by Sainsbury's supermarket advising customers to social distance while shopping on display in London as the retailer plans to ease shopping restrictions (Claire Doherty/Sipa USA)

Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) is to ease some of its coronavirus-related shopping restrictions on the number of items customers can buy from Sunday.

In a statement on the Sainsbury’s website, chief executive, Mike Coupe said limits on most items were being lifted as the supermarket now has “stock on the shelves all day and at the end of the day” due to a decline in panic-buying.

Sainsbury's said restrictions would remain on “the most popular items” such as UHT milk, pasta, and tinned tomatoes, among other goods.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson told the BBC that limits would also remain in place on butter, cheese and some canned and packaged long-life items, as well as some frozen goods.

Otherwise, the limits were being “largely removed.”

Read more: Retailers hike prices of cough and cold medicines

The easing of shopping restrictions will begin on Sunday 5 April, although a three-item limit on Easter eggs is to be lifted immediately.

Coupe said: “People have been queuing to get into our stores when they open in the mornings, but customers are now finding they can shop at any time of the day and feel confident in finding most of what they need,” he said.

“Most people are now just buying what they need for themselves and their families. This means we now often have stock on the shelves all day and at the end of the day.”

Earlier this week, Aldi, Morrisons (MRW.L), Waitrose and Asda (WMT) announced they would be loosening restrictions on the number of items shoppers could buy after seeing a reduction in the number of people making shopping trips since the UK was put into lockdown.

However, Sainsbury’s will also be introducing a new rule allowing only one adult per household into stores and requesting that children be kept at home where possible.

Read more: Morrisons to give staff £1,050 coronavirus bonus

Sainsbury’s said this will keep customers and employees better protected from the spread of coronavirus.

Coupe said: “From today, we are asking everyone to please only send one adult per household to our shops.

“This helps us keep people a safe distance apart and also helps reduce queues to get into stores. Our store teams will be asking groups with more than one adult to choose one adult to shop and will ask other adults to wait.

“Children of course are welcome if they are not able to stay at home.”

Coupe also said Sainsbury’s online service had grown from offering 370,000 home delivery and click-and-collect slots two weeks ago to 600,000 by the end of next week, with the intention to increase capacity further.

Read more: Sainsbury's accused of exploiting 'loophole' to keep Argos open

The supermarket said it has offered priority online grocery delivery to more than 450,000 elderly or vulnerable customers.