This is one of the reasons why Tesco managed to report a 30 per cent increase in sales in March, during the first few weeks of the pandemic sweeping across the UK.

Prior to being forced to stay at home, many Brits hit the supermarkets to stockpile goods in case they were forced to go into isolation and could not get hold of the food, drink and sanitary items they would require during that two-week period.

A statement from the superstore stated: “Significant panic buying … cleared the supply chain of certain items.”

As a result, Tesco, as well as many other supermarkets, were unable to keep up with the demand for some goods, including hand wash, hand sanitisers, toilet paper, pasta and rice, as shoppers bought them in their dozens.

Indeed, during the peak week of shopping, Tesco reported selling 3.1 million containers of liquid soap, representing a rise of 363 per cent on normal figures; six million tins of beans, which is more than double typical sales; 3.3 million tins of tomatoes, a growth of 115 per cent compared to usual; and 3.6 million packets of toilet roll, a 76 per cent increase, reported the BBC.

However, some of this was balanced by a drop in sales of clothing and fuel, with transactions for both falling by 70 per cent over the week.

Chief executive of the supermarket giant Dave Lewis said: “Covid-19 has shown how critical the food supply chain is to the UK and I’m very proud of the way Tesco, as indeed the whole UK food industry, has stepped forward.”

He went on to say: “In this time of crisis we have focused on four things; food for all, safety for everyone, supporting our colleagues and supporting our communities.”

Mr Lewis reassured customers that the initial panic-buying episode is over, and most people have now resumed their usual shopping habits, which means stock levels are beginning to return to normal.

To help control the supply and demand problem, Tesco introduced a limit of three items per customer. However, it has since removed this restriction on most of its products following the stabilisation of stocks.

It has also initiated social distancing measures in its stores, creating one-way aisle and a ‘one in, one out’ policy; placing directional markings on the floor to ensure customers keep two metres apart from each other; installing protective screens for checkout assistants; introducing new cleaning stations; and asking customers to pay by card.

The retailer has also launched opening hours just for NHS workers, the elderly and more vulnerable customers, as well as expanding its home delivery services by 20 per cent in the last fortnight.

To make sure it is giving priority to those who are vulnerable, Tesco asked the government for names of those who fall into this category. It has since contacted more than 110,000 people to offer them delivery slots ahead of other customers.

While sales at Tesco continue to remain high, with customers limited with where they buy their ‘essential goods’ from, the retail giant has had to offset this with taking on 45,000 new colleagues since March 20th, while still paying those who are over 70, vulnerable or pregnant their full wage for 12 weeks. It also introduced a ten per cent bonus on the hourly rate; increased their colleague discount to 15 per cent for one month; and is providing full pay for those who have to self-isolate.

A statement from the supermarket stated: “The estimated impact on our retail cost lines is between £650 million and £925 million including significant cost increases in payroll, distribution and store expenses.”

In addition to ploughing extra funding into supporting its staff, it has donated a further £15 million of food to FareShare and the Trussell Trust over the next 12 weeks; given £2 million to the British Red Cross; provided food for one million free meal parcels for frontline NHS workers; and built its first NHS Nightingale Hospital pop-up store at the NEC in Birmingham.

It is not just huge supermarkets that are faring well during the crisis, however, as more shoppers are heading to their local farm shops to get their necessary items.

Indeed, the Eastern Daily Press reported that Fielding Cottage near Norwich, which sells meat, eggs, vegetables and other goods, has seen takings increase 35 times from the week before.

Not only is this helping customers who cannot find what they need in supermarkets, it is also supporting farmers and wholesalers who are no longer able to sell to pubs, restaurants and caterers.

If you want to spruce up the front of your farm shop to gain more interest from local customers, get in touch with us for automatic shop doors today.