Grocers Limit Items, Raising Fears Of New U.K. Hoarding Crisis

Three of Britain’s main supermarkets have introduced limits on certain products, raising fears that the country could be facing another stockpiling crisis.

Tesco Plc is restricting the purchase of items including flour, dried pasta, toilet paper and antibacterial wipes to three per customer. There are also limits for a small number of goods online, such as rice and canned vegetables.

The U.K.’s largest grocer follows Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc, which earlier this week introduced caps of three on a small range of products. Waitrose, the upmarket grocer owned by John Lewis Partnership Plc, is introducing limits on certain items Friday in all its stores, a spokeswoman said.

The restrictions raise the specter of the panic buying that swept the U.K. and other countries earlier this year as lockdowns were imposed, straining supply chains and swamping online delivery systems. The U.K. government this week imposed new restrictions as Covid-19 infections surge anew.

Tesco, Morrison and Waitrose said they hold good stock levels and there’s no need for customers to worry but they wanted to ensure that all shoppers could get what they need.

“We would encourage our customers to shop as normal,” Tesco said in a statement.

Supermarkets have stressed repeatedly that the country has plenty of food and there’s no need for panic buying. J Sainsbury Plc and Asda Stores Ltd., the second- and third-largest grocers, have not introduced restrictions.

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