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Supermarket shelves starting to empty as ‘pingdemic’ hits shops

Empty shelves of water at Tesco in Bathgate, West Lothian. Supermarkets with empty shelves. July 21 2021
Empty shelves of water at Tesco in Bathgate, West Lothian today (Picture: SWNS)

Some supermarkets are struggling to keep their shelves full due to staff shortages caused by the ‘pingdemic’.

Images taken today at supermarkets across the UK show bare fruit and veg boxes, as well as freezer cabinets and other aisles.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged the Government act to change self-isolation guidance for workers, warning that shops are under ‘increasing pressure’.

It comes as Britain’s mounting lorry driver shortage also puts increased pressure on the country’s grocery supply chain.

The images from shops are similar to those seen at the start of the pandemic, when people stockpiled toilet roll and other goods out of fear they would begin to run low.

Shoppers have already taken to social media to highlight empty shelves appearing in supermarkets across the country.

Andrew Opie, director of food & sustainability at the BRC, said staff in stores and suppliers should be allowed to work even if they get an alert to self-isolate.

Fruit and veg stock at Hedge End Sainsburys near Southampton. Southampton, Hampshire. 21 July 2021.
Fruit and veg stock at Hedge End Sainsburys near Southampton today (Picture: SWNS)
Hand sanitiser shelves almost empty at Morrisons at The Gyle, Edinburgh. Supermarkets with empty shelves. July 21 2021
Hand sanitiser shelves almost empty at Morrisons at The Gyle, Edinburgh (Picture: SWNS)
Empty freezer cabinet of Roast Potatoes and chips at Tesco in Bathgate, West Lothian. Supermarkets with empty shelves. July 21 2021
Empty freezer cabinet of Roast Potatoes and chips at Tesco in Bathgate, West Lothian (PIcture: SWNS)
Empty shelves of water at Tesco in Greenfield, Glasgow. Supermarkets with empty shelves. July 21 2021
Empty shelves of water at Tesco in Greenfield, Glasgow (Picture: SWNS)
Empty shelves salad at Tesco in Greenfield, Glasgow. Supermarkets with empty shelves. July 21 2021
Empty shelves salad at Tesco in Greenfield, Glasgow (Picture: SWNS)
Empty shelves of Heinz Tomato Sauce at Asda in Parkhead, Glasgow. Supermarkets with empty shelves. July 21 2021
Empty shelves of Heinz Tomato Sauce at Asda in Parkhead, Glasgow (Picture: SWNS)

‘The ongoing ‘pingdemic’ is putting increasing pressure on retailers’ ability to maintain opening hours and keep shelves stocked,’ he said.

‘Government needs to act fast. Retail workers and suppliers, who have played a vital role throughout this pandemic, should be allowed to work provided they are double vaccinated or can show a negative Covid test, to ensure there is no disruption to the public’s ability to get food and other goods.

‘With community cases soaring, the number of healthy retail staff having to self-isolate is rising fast, disrupting retail operations.’

Food industry bosses also warned that supply chains are ‘starting to fail’ because of workers isolating over coronavirus contacts.

British Meat Processors Association chief executive Nick Allen also criticised ‘confusing messages’ from the Government as he said ministers have not clarified who is applicable.

It came as Boris Johnson apologised to businesses for the ‘inconvenience’ on Wednesday, but told them to stick with isolation rules after confusion was sown by his own ministers.

Mr Allen said that shortage of skills and workers for permanent positions is reaching a ‘critically high level’, with vacancies already high prior to increased staff isolations.

‘We’ve heard reports of plants having between 10% and 16% vacancies even before absenteeism due to Covid is factored-in.

‘On top of the underlying worker shortage, we’re also hearing from some members that between 5% and 10% of their workforce have been ‘pinged’ by the app and asked to self-isolate.

‘There’s a real air of despondency creeping through the industry.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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