Tesco has begun rationing essential food and household items as a result of coronavirus panic buying.
It is limiting the amount of antibacterial gels, wipes and sprays, dry pasta, UHT milk and some tinned vegetables to five items per customer.
These shopping restrictions introduced by the UK’s largest grocer apply whether purchasing in-store or online.
It comes as panic buying has also seen UK shelves stripped of items like ready meals, toilet roll and paracetamol.
Shoppers have been in a buying frenzy over fears that essential items may be running low.
But Dr Andrew Potter, chair in logistics and transport at Cardiff Business School, told the BBC: “Whilst there might be empty shelves at the moment in the shops, over the next week or so, we will see them replenish.
“The supply chain will start to deliver stuff through to the stores and hopefully this shortage – which is fairly short-term – will clear and everything will be back to normal again.”
He said while retailers may have been caught out by the beginning of this shopping surge, they had very sophisticated systems to check changes in demand.
UK retailers have been warned that they face prosecution if they exploit the coronavirus scare to hike prices for products such as hand sanitisers and face masks.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has told suppliers to act responsibly and said that it was monitoring pricing practices.
It comes as Facebook and Amazon have cracked down on profiteers hiking prices online of face masks and hand sanitisers.
Facebook says it is temporarily banning ads and commercial listings for medical face masks. The ban will also apply to Instagram.
“We’re monitoring Covid-19 closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency,” Facebook director of product management Rob Leathern tweeted.
“We’ll start rolling out this change in the days ahead. We… anticipate profiteers will evolve their approach as we enforce on these ads. Please report if you see such ads showing up (top right corner of ad) and flag here as well for our teams to action.”
Facebook had earlier announced a ban on ads for medical products which falsely suggested an item was in short supply, as well as those which falsely claimed to provide cures or prevention methods for coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Amazon said it had removed thousands of listings from its sites around the world and was constantly monitoring attempted price-gouging.
Gel price ramping
Analysis from Liberty Marketing has found UK own-brand hand sanitisers are being sold on eBay for huge mark ups, with Lidl 49p sanitisers selling for as much as £24.99 online.
Morrison’s £2 hand sanitiser is being sold for £29.99 – a 1,400% increase.
The Tesco Health Antibacterial Hand Gel (50ml) is just 75p in-store and is being sold for as much as £9 on eBay, a 1,100% hike.
Other supermarkets included in the research include Asda, with a 2,629% increase, and Morrisons, with a 1,400% increase. Sainsbury’s did not sell its own brand.
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