Coronavirus: Panic-buyers clear UK supermarkets of essentials

The shelves of British supermarkets are emptying at pace and staples are being rationed as coronavirus stockpiling spiralled out of control today amid warnings of 'food riots' if the crisis worsens.

Shortages previously limited to anti-bacterial hand gel and hand soap have spread to cupboard items such as rice, pasta, couscous, Pot Noodles, bottled water, toilet roll and pet food - as well as chilled items including milk, butter and yoghurt.

Pharmacy shelves are also emptying of paracetamol, ibuprofen and immune-system boosting tablets such as Berocca as people prepare to fight off the flu-like illness that has claimed hundreds of lives worldwide.

Facebook and Twitter is packed with photographs of empty shelves from major supermarkets across the UK where shoppers appear to have thrown empty boxes into the aisles in the mad scramble for items.

MailOnline readers have also shared pictures of their well-stocked larders as people prepare for weeks in isolation.

One reader said: 'I have been trying for THREE days to buy pasta but I cannot see any as most shops have run out of pasta and pasta sauce'.

The scramble for food has also revealed what Britons do not consider essentials despite a China-style shutdown of communities predicted - including some flavours of crisps and confectionary including Terry's Chocolate Orange.

Londoner Jasia Warren tweeted: 'Interesting to see what people are stockpiling in my local supermarket. Bare shelves for rice, pasta, handwash, tissues and loo roll. Also interesting to see what people are not stockpiling: polenta, crumpets and get well cards. Their loss is my gain. #stockpiling'. 

As stockpiling is on the increase, MailOnline can reveal:

The number of people buying hand sanitiser in British supermarkets jumped from 468,433 in February 2019 to 1,156,102 during the four weeks to February 23 2020, according to sales experts Kantar; Shopper numbers for liquid soap increased also by 400,000 from 7,282,876 to 7,656,645 units last month;  Supermarket sales of oral painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen grew by 10% in the past four weeks;

Shelves in this London Tesco is empty of pasta, pasta sauces, rice and other staples but crisps and chocolate oranges appear to have been left

Shelves in this London Tesco is empty of pasta, pasta sauces, rice and other staples but crisps and chocolate oranges appear to have been left

This London Sainsbury's is running out of germ-busting disinfectant, bleach and anti-bacterial wipes

This London Sainsbury's is running out of germ-busting disinfectant, bleach and anti-bacterial wipes 

Water is also selling out in supermarkets including this Asda in the capital despite coronavirus posing little threat to the country's water supply

Water is also selling out in supermarkets including this Asda in the capital despite coronavirus posing little threat to the country's water supply

Sales of oral painkillers such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen are up ten per cent in the past year

Sales of oral painkillers such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen are up ten per cent in the past year 

Milk also appears to be flying off themselves along with other dairy products such as cheese and yoghurts also selling well

Milk also appears to be flying off themselves along with other dairy products such as cheese and yoghurts also selling well

There has also been a spike in sales of effervescent drinks containing vitamin C including Berocca and Redoxen

There has also been a spike in sales of effervescent drinks containing vitamin C including Berocca and Redoxen

This MailOnline reader has shared pictures of her stockpiled goods that include pies, squash, beans, sauces, detergent, bottled water and pet food

This MailOnline reader has shared pictures of her stockpiled goods that include pies, squash, beans, sauces, detergent, bottled water and pet food

This MailOnline reader has shared pictures of her stockpiled goods that include pies, squash, beans, sauces, detergent, bottled water and pet food

These two pocket-sized bottles of limited edition antibacterial hand gel are being sold on Amazon for £50 as people try to cash in

These two pocket-sized bottles of limited edition antibacterial hand gel are being sold on Amazon for £50 as people try to cash in

Haslemere shoppers empty the shelves in 'heaving' Sainsbury's after four locals fall ill with coronavirus 

By Nick Fagge

Shoppers and supermarket staff have told how the Haslemere Coronavirus outbreak has caused panic buying.

Stocks of toilet roll, pasta and baked beans were completely sold out at the Sainsbury’s store in nearby Liphook, with new deliveries failing to make-up the short-fall.

Today shelves remained partially empty with shoppers buying extra provisions, just in case.

One shopper, who declined to be identified, told MailOnline: ‘There was panic buying here on Saturday.

‘The shelves were empty of rice, pasta, beans of all kinds, lentils and loo roll.

‘People were clearly worried about what had happened in Haslemere and wanted to make sure they would be ok if they had to stay in-doors.’

The 55-year-old mother-of-two, from Liphook, added she had been buying extra provisions today.

She said: ‘Today I saw the shelves were almost empty of loo roll so I have stocked up. I’ve also got some extra tins of soup in and some Lucozade in case we have to self-isolate.

‘Haslemere is only down the road and everyone around here knows people there.’

A Sainsbury’s worker described the weekend as ‘heaving’.

He said: ‘Saturday and Sunday were unbelievably busy – much busier than a normal weekend. We sold out of lots of essentials, like beans, toilet roll and pasta. It looked like people were trying to stock up just in case.’

Shops have seen a surge in panic buying fuelled by the coronavirus crisis - and supermarkets have now drawn up contingency plans to 'feed the nation' in the event of a sudden escalation, it has emerged.

With two chains already rationing sales, a former Tesco executive said a major outbreak in Britain would 'quickly lead to empty shelves and food riots'.

Ocado has emailed customers to warn it is running out of home delivery slots due to 'exceptionally high demand' and 'particularly large orders'. 

Waitrose reported 'seeing more demand for... cleaning products and hand sanitisers', and Tesco's website has sold out of hand gel.

Lidl said it is 'experiencing a significant increase in demand for durable products and disinfectants'. 

It has now limited sales

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