UK retailer closes fish counters to free up staff to deal with coronavirus-led demand

Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe has announced that the U.K. supermarket chain will cease to operate all of its in-store fish counters in order that staff can be redeployed to keep its shelves stocked amid the increased demand for other foods and essential items driven by fears over the COVID-19 outbreak.

The move will take place in stores from Thursday, 19 March, he said in a statement. All of Sainsbury’s cafes, meat, and pizza counters will also close.

“This means we can free up warehouse and lorry capacity for products that customers really need. It will also free up time for our store colleagues to focus on keeping the shelves as well stocked as possible,” Coupe said.

Meanwhile, in response to customer requests, also on 19 March, the first hour in every Sainsbury’s store will be set aside for elderly and vulnerable customers.

“If you or an elderly family member, friend, or neighbor would like to shop during this hour, please check online for your local supermarket opening hours. For all other customers, supermarkets will open one hour after the published opening time. I hope that you can respect this decision and will work with us as we try our best to help those that need it the most,” Coupe said.

Additionally, from Monday, 23 March, Sainsbury’s online customers who are over 70 years of age or have a disability will have priority access to online delivery slots.

Sainsbury’s has also extended the number of products with purchasing restrictions.

“From today, 18 March, customers will be able to buy a maximum of three of any grocery product and a maximum of two on the most popular products including toilet paper, soap, and UHT milk. We have enough food coming into the system, but are limiting sales so that it stays on shelves for longer and can be bought by a larger number of customers,” Coupe said.

Photo courtesy of Sainsbury’s


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