Swathes of customers raced to bulk-buy household essentials this morning ahead of a second national lockdown next week.
Supermarket shelves across the UK were emptied of loo roll, pasta and tinned goods as desperate Britons prepared to hunker down at home for the next month.
The scenes come after Boris Johnson was last night catapulted into announcing a total four-week shutdown for England from Thursday until December 2 amid a rise in coronavirus cases across the nation.
Today Michael Gove suggested that England could spend Christmas in full lockdown if the four-week November shutdown did not bring the rates of transmission in the country down.
Shelves are emptied of toilet rolls at a Tesco store in Grimsby as sawathes of customers race to bulk-buy household essentials this morning
Shoppers race to buy loo roll after Boris Johnson announced a total four-week shutdown for England last night
Packets of pasta appear to be running low at a Tesco store in Surrey Queues, South East London
Hundreds waited outside Costcos in Manchester, London and Southampton, while shelves were stripped of loo rolls at Poundland in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.
Meanwhile at a Tesco store in Surrey Queues, south east London, shelves of pasta appeared empty as customers rushed to purchase the food item.
Lorraine Foster, who went to a Costco in Sudbury to pick up some Halloween treats, said: ‘The queue was enormous, it’s ridiculous. I think people are just starting to get a bit anxious now with the new restrictions about to come.’
Meanwhile, Ocado delivery slots were also in high demand, with the online supermarket saying it was ‘selling out faster than usual’.
Big chains such as Tesco and Asda said it was too early to tell whether people had regressed to the panic-buying of earlier in the year and reassured customers that they had plenty of stock to deal with increased demand.
Sainsbury’s said: ‘We aren’t currently restricting products. Customers can continue to shop safely and with confidence in our stores, where they will see we have good availability.’
A Tesco spokesman added: ‘We would encourage our customers to shop as normal.’
However, there were signs on social media that some customers were stocking up, with Twitter user Sinead Johnson saying: ‘I popped into Asda to get a few bits for my Halloween movie night and half the shelves were empty already. The panic buying has started.’
It is understood that supermarkets were given no advanced warning of a national lockdown. One source said: ‘The Government has blindsided us again.’
Today Michael Gove suggested that England could also spend Christmas in full lockdown if the R rate across the country did not fall enough.
Appearing on Sophy Ridge on Sky News, the Cabinet Office Minister defended the Prime Minister’s latest move and said that over November the Government would review the data.
Customers empty the shelves of toilet roll at a Waitrose store in north London following the announcement of a second national lockdown
Shelves of toilet paper are emptied as shoppers rush to the stores ahead of a four-week national lockdown
Customers empty the toilet paper shelves as a Tesco store in Surrey Queues following the Prime Minister’s announcement
Shelves of pastas are emptied as shoppers prepare to hunker down at home for the next month
Shoppers queue outside a Costco wholesale store in Leeds as the country prepares to enter a second national lockdown
Shoppers rush to buy good at a Tesco store in Grimsby after the Prime Minister announced a four-week shutdown for England from Thursday until December 2
Panic buying is back as people at Costco Manchester push trolleys in the rain today
Hundreds waited outside Costcos in Manchester, London and Southampton. People are seen buying toilet rolls at Costco Watford
Asked if the national lockdown could be extended, he replied: ‘Yes.’
He said: ‘We want to be in a position where we can – and I believe that this is likely to be the case – have an approach where if we bring down the rate of infection sufficiently we can reduce measures nationally and also reduce measures regionally.
‘Because the regional approach is one that, wherever possible, we want to take because again we recognise it may be the case in the future that having reduced R below 1, having reduced national restrictions, we may see a specific upsurge in specific areas which will require specific regional measures.’
But he added: ‘We are going to review it on December 2 but we will always be driven by what the data shows.’
Shoppers braved atrocious weather in Southampton yesterday to stock up on household essentials ahead of the lockdown
Mr Gove also explained that it would the Government had a ‘clear plan’ over the next four-week period to support the economy and to protect the NHS.
He continued: ‘With a virus this malignant, and with its capacity to move so quickly, it would be foolish to predict with absolute certainty what will happen in four weeks’ time, when over the course of the last two weeks its rate, its infectiousness and its malignancy have grown,’ he said.
‘And so therefore of course we will review what requires to be done but we have a clear plan over the next four-week (period) to support the economy and to protect the NHS.’
Last night the Prime Minister was was forced to rush into his announcement of a second national after his plans were leaked from a secret ministerial meeting.
The leak meant that the shutdown was on the front pages before the rest of the Cabinet had been told about the decision.
Number of Christmas shopping days left are HALVED by lockdown! Shoppers flock to England’s town centres with just 26 days to buy presents on the High Street – but stores CAN still offer click-and-collect through November
By Milly Vincent For Mailonline
With only 26 days of high street shopping before Christmas crowds are seen flocking to city centres to make the most of their last days in store before non-essential shops will close.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced the country last night to announce a four-week shutdown from Thursday until December 2, in the wake of a surge of cases that could trigger thousands of deaths.
The previous lockdown cost non-essential shops £1.6 billion a week in lost sales, and losses are expected to be much larger over the Christmas period, with experts warning we may not have much of a high street to return to.
We have lost 27 days of high street shopping due to lockdown – meaning Christmas present buying time has been halved.
Shoppers in Liverpool City centre today before the National Lockdown is implemented on Thursday
With only 26 days of shopping before Christmas crowds are seen flocking to city centres
Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement of a national lockdown, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, warned: ‘Retail faces a nightmare before Christmas as the Government proposes to close thousands of retail premises under this new national lockdown, denying customers access to many of their favourites shops and brands.
‘It will cause untold damage to the high street in the run up to Christmas, cost countless jobs, and permanently set back the recovery of the wider economy, with only a minimal effect on the transmission of the virus.
Businesses can continue to sell non-essential items via click and collect as long as their stores are covid-secure for the pick up as the government guidelines for the second lockdown state: ‘Non-essential retail can remain open for delivery to customers and click-and-collect.’
Queues at the click and collect could be expected this Christmas as major retailers work through plans to continue to trade non-essential items via the loophole.
Crowds of shoppers are seen loading up on non-essential items ahead of the month-long lockdown
The previous lockdown costing non-essential shops £1.6 billion a week in lost sales, and losses expected to be much larger over the Christmas period
Many have been out buying Christmas luxuries a whole two months ahead of the big day. Liverpool City Centre, today
While it may not be the Christmas shopping experience most are looking for the high street will not be a totally dead zone despite business closures this month – as click and collect remains open.
In a statement this afternoon John Lewis, who offers a click and collect service, said that it was going to remain open for customers to pick up items: ‘Customers can continue to shop online at johnlewis.com and in John Lewis stores until the evening of 4 November.
‘We’re confident that customers will shop online in big numbers, continuing the trends we’ve seen already this year, with home delivery and click & collect giving customers convenient and safe options to receive our brilliant John Lewis products.
‘We’ll temporarily close our John Lewis shops in England from 5 November, but they will be open for customers to collect items they’ve bought online, as per the Government guidelines. We look forward to welcoming customers back to buy our products in all of our John Lewis shops, which will reopen as soon as Government guidance allows.’
Shoppers poorly socially distance at Westfield Stratford, east London
Policemen patrol Westfield shopping mall in Stratford, east London, as shoppers make the most of the four days left until lockdown
Oxford Street shoppers brave the elements in central London ahead of the lockdown on Thursday
Central London remains busy into the evening as shoppers rush to make their last minute purchases in store
Shoppers head to Bristol city centre to do some last minute shopping as all non-essential shops are due to close
Stores can still offer click and collect as long as they operate in a covid safe manner
Most kept their masks off in crowded shopping areas whilst other only wore the protection in stores
Shoppers queue outside Ikea in Batley, West Yorkshire, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown
Shoppers queue outside Ikea in Batley, West Yorkshire, ahead of it’s closure on Thursday
Hundreds flood into Ikea in Batley, West Yorkshire, today ahead of the lockdown
Ms Dickinson of the British Retail Consortium continued: ‘A recent Sage paper reported that closing ‘non-essential’ retail would have minimal impact on the transmission of Covid.
‘This is thanks to the hundreds of millions of pounds retailers have spent making their stores Covid-secure and safe for customers and colleagues.
‘The announced closure will have a significant economic impact on the viability of thousands of shops and hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country.
Shoppers at Costco in Leicester, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown will come into force in England next week
Shoppers were queuing in the rain outside a Lidl supermarket in Locksbottom in the borough of Bromley, South East London from 9am this morning to buy essential food supplies
Non-essential gift items are not the only things flying off the shelf in the run up to the Christmas period as Waitrose announced people had bought 250 per cent more festive items
A shopper stocks up on essentials while at Lidl in Locksbottom, Bromley, south east London
‘We have no doubt that retailers will comply with the rules and play their part to ensure the British public can remain safe and have access to the goods they need.
‘Nonetheless, Government must also play its part, providing support to businesses that will be forced to close, otherwise the consequences for local retail will be dire.’
And non-essential gift items are not the only things flying off the shelf in the run up to the Christmas period as Waitrose announced that people have bought 250 per cent more festive products online already compared to last year.
A pedestrian wearing a mask because of the coronavirus pandemic walks carrying plants past shops on Oxford Street in London on November 1, 2020
A stall holder adjusts a display of face masks in a shop on Oxford Street in London on November 1, 2020
The supermarket has also seen a 280 per cent rise in those ordering their pre-prepped Christmas dinners and a 180 per cent rise in the number of turkeys ordered.
To deal with a massively increased demand the supermarket is offering 190,000 delivery slots each week and has already had 107,000 slots booked for 20 to 24 December.
Waitrose added: ‘We’ve also significantly increased Collection slots this year. By the end of Oct we will have 269 Shops offering Click & Collect groceries, and with 57 of these shops offering drive-through collections.’