Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The UK’s New Supermarket Regulations

Holly Platt-Higgins Holly Platt-Higgins

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The UK’s New Supermarket Regulations

To help prevent stockpiling, major supermarkets across the UK are introducing shopping rules.

This article was last updated at 15:50 31/03/2020

The recent outbreak of coronavirus has given rise to a lot of people panic buying and stockpiling goods. The supermarkets and government have repeatedly asked people not to do this, and yet, if you go into a supermarket today, you wouldn’t be surprised to find the shelves completely empty.

March was the busiest month on record for supermarkets across Britain as shoppers rushed to stock up on vital supplies to see them through the coronavirus pandemic, according to new data from Kantar. Grocery sales soared by 20.6% in the last four weeks, and 7.6% in the last 12, beating even Christmas shopping, with a whopping 10.8 billion spent!

The average household has increased its spending by £62.92 over the last four weeks, although, according to The Guardian, the peak of supermarket shopping happened two weeks ago, on Saturday 14 March. However, unsurprisingly, supermarkets are still finding it difficult to restock their shelves and meet the growing demand.

Therefore, many supermarkets have instated new regulations to ensure that everyone can get what they need. Here’s a list of everything you need to know about quantity restrictions, opening hours, online shopping and deliveries at the moment.


Asda customers are now only allowed to buy three of any one product across all food items. Asda has closed all of their service counters, such as delicatessens and fish counters. They have temporarily closed their 24hour stores between 12am-6am and many of their stores opening times have changed. Check your local store’s times here. Customers are asked to respect social distancing rules while shopping and Asda are in the process of implementing Perspex screens at checkout.

Asda is asking their customers to notify them if they’re self-isolating when ordering online. For home deliveries, drivers will be wearing gloves and items will not be brought inside the house by the driver. Asda has asked that people ensure their delivery details are up to date, because drivers will not wait for a long time for you to collect your shopping and a slow response could result in your items being returned and refunded.


Tesco has removed all multi-buy offers and imposed a cap of two units on the most popular items, which include toilet roll, soap and long-life milk. The limit is three on everything else. Tesco will be closing all of their service counters and all stores will be closing at 10pm to allow for restocking. Many of Tesco’s stores opening times have changed so be sure to check your local store’s here.

If you are self-isolating, you should inform Tesco when ordering online and a driver will drop your goods off in your desired area. All drivers will be wearing disposable gloves. The supermarket will not be charging for plastic bags at this time. There is a limit of 80 items per online order.

Tesco has also asked those customers who are able to, to opt for click and collect, in order to help free up delivery slots for the elderly and vulnerable. Tesco will also prioritise one hour every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning between 9-10am (except in Express stores), for the elderly and vulnerable, and an hour on Tuesday and Thursday morning for NHS workers.


Aldi does not deliver groceries but has recently announced an increase in its orders from their suppliers. They have reassured customers they have sufficient stock to cope with demand and replenish the shelves. This morning they scrapped limits on all but a few essential items. They will also be opening half an hour early on Sundays, at 9.30am, form NHS staff, Police and members of the Fire Service. Aldi has also introduced a new policy, where only one person per household is able to enter the store at one time.


Sainsbury’s is also among the shops telling customers they can only buy three of any item and two of anything considered to be essential. They have shut their fresh food counters and have given delivery priority for online customers who are over 70 or have a disability priority access to online delivery slots.  They have also implemented a queuing system to keep customers at a safe distance from each other.

From Monday through to Saturday, NHS workers have shopping priority form 7.30am-8am. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the elderly, carers and disabled customers will have priority from 8am – 9am.


Yesterday, Ocado said it had decided to temporarily close until Saturday March 21 to deal with the number of orders they had. When they re-open, they will have a virtual queuing system in place.

Ocado delivery drivers will no longer be carrying shopping into your home and have asked customers not to hand plastic bags back to drivers, as they have paused their recycling scheme for now. Ocado has also chosen to prioritise deliveries for existing customers, so new customers will not be able to book a delivery slot at this time.


Morrisons is also only allowing customers to buy up to four of any food items. There are controlling the number of people in a store at any one time, to ensure social distancing is respected. They’ve advised only one member from each household enters a store. And have implemented a dedicated hour for NHS staff in the morning.

Morrisons would like you to notify them if you are self-isolating when you order online, and are asking that all customers keep hold of plastic bags rather than returning them.


All of Waitrose’s cafe’s have been temporarily closed and they have introduced a cap of three on certain products and two, on packets of toilet roll. But as of this morning, they’ve removed the cap on all fresh food, so meat, fish, poultry and other fresh goods can now be purchased freely.

Waitrose has launched a protected shopping period for the elderly and vulnerable, which is the first opening hour of every store. They’ve also banned couples and families shopping together so as to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and safeguard staff and customers.

All Waitrose stores will be protecting batches of ‘hard to find’ products exclusively for NHS workers to ensure they have a better opportunity to access essential items, at any time of day. They will also have priority at checkouts, either with a dedicated queue, or they will be fast-tracked to the front of the line.


Several Iceland shops across the country have started setting aside an exclusive early morning shopping slot (8am-9am) for the elderly and the vulnerable, to help them acquire the produce they need. The final our of trading each day with similarly be reserved for NHS workers.


Like Aldi, Lidl has imposed a restriction of four units of any item across all of their stores. They have also imposed a crowd control system across their stores to ensure that people remain a safe distance away from one another while shopping.

We will keep adding to the article as and when we have new information.

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