Brits start panic buying hours after lockdown announcement with shelves stripped

Brits have started panic buying and emptying supermarket shelves again after the introduction of a third lockdown.

Shoppers were spotted buying in bulk at stores in the capital and Birmingham.

In Ilford, east London, shops were left without rice and toilet roll just an hour after the announcement.

In Watford, Hertfordshire, queues started forming outside a Costco warehouse this morning.

Panic buyers were also snapped stocking up on loo roll in Leeds.

At a Costco in Birmingham, shoppers got in early and started carting away dozens of items before the coroanvirus press conference.

Aldi CEO Giles Hurley last night wrote to customers and asked them to “shop considerably”.

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said the supermarket had “good availability and we encourage customers to shop as normal”.

Hours after the new lockdown measures were announced, several supermarket websites struggled under the new demand, The Grocer reported.

Sainsbury’s and Tesco told users they were experiencing “issues”, while Morrisons advised customers to log out of their accounts.

This morning, there were nearly 15,000 people queuing on the Ocado website.

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E-commerce expert Rebecca Crook said: “While I’m sure many retailers have improved the performance and load capacity of their sites, they haven’t fully scaled to the capacity they need to in order to reach demands like we experienced last night.

“Cost will no doubt be one of the core reasons for this so they will balance that with providing virtual queues and not providing a great online customer experience.”

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove this morning said the country was in for a "very difficult" few weeks and could give no firm date for lifting the restrictions.

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He told Sky News: "The Government is doing everything it can in order to ensure that we can roll out the vaccine more rapidly, help the vulnerable by getting the inoculations they need and make sure that at the end of what will inevitably be very, very difficult weeks, that life can eventually return to normal."

Pressed on whether the lockdown was likely to last until March, Gove added: "We will be able to review the progress that we've made on February 15, just before the traditional school half-term, and we hope that we will be able to progressively lift restrictions after that but what I can't do is predict – nobody can predict – with accuracy exactly what we will be able to relax and when.

"What we do know is that the more effective our vaccination programme, the more people who are protected in that way, the easier it will be to lift these restrictions."

However, he believes March should mark the point at which some restrictions will start to be lifted.

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