UK supermarket restrictions: what you need to know

The key changes being made to prevent panic buying and help those most in need during the coronavirus crisis


Limits to shopping hours All stores closing at 10pm for restocking. Some larger stores with pharmacies will stay open later. Temporary closure of all fresh food counters except bakeries.

Purchase restrictions Maximum of three of each item. Multi-buy promotions axed.

Vulnerable customers Priority hour on Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning from 9am-10am (apart from Express stores) for the elderly and vulnerable.

Online delivery restrictions Online customers are asked to go to physical stores to free delivery slots for the elderly and vulnerable.

Other Floor marking in stores to facilitate social distancing. Employees who are over 70, vulnerable or pregnant will not be expected to work for 12 weeks and will be fully paid over that time. Workers self-isolating paid in full.


Limits to shopping hours All cafes and meat, fish and pizza counters closed.

Purchase restrictions Maximum of three of any grocery product, maximum of two of most popular products, including toilet roll, soap and UHT milk.

Vulnerable customers First hour after opening set aside for elderly and vulnerable customers. Priority access to online delivery slots for customers aged over 70 or disabled from Monday 26 March.

Online delivery restrictions Expanding click and collect service, increasing number of collection sites across the country, including car park collection points.


Limits to shopping hours Temporary closure of 24-hour stores between 12am and 6am.

Purchase restrictions Maximum of three of any product.

Vulnerable customers
From opening until 9am is priority time for the elderly and vulnerable.

Online delivery restrictions
Asking customers to consider less popular delivery times.


Limits to shopping hours Shorter hours, closing at 8pm each day.

Purchase restrictions Shoppers only allowed to purchase four of each product.

Other Installing clear screens at all UK checkouts.


Yet to introduce any item restrictions, but has asked customers to be considerate.


Limits to shopping hours Some early closures for restocking. All cafes and coffee machines suspended.

Purchase restrictions Maximum three of each grocery item (excl fresh fruit/veg and some alcohol) and maximum two packs of toilet roll.

Vulnerable customers
: Priority first hour for elderly, vulnerable and their carers. Working on special deliveries for vulnerable customers.

Other Six hundred John Lewis employees sent to help at Waitrose branches. Employees get free meals at work.


Limits to shopping hours Shorter opening hours and closing at 8pm.

Purchase restrictions Limits on toilet roll, cleaning products and some health and beauty items.

Vulnerable customers Making more delivery slots available.

Online delivery: Making more slots available to customers through and the Morrisons stores on Amazon Prime Now.

Other Immediate payments for smaller suppliers. Five hundred head office workers working in distribution centres and stores. A call centre for people who cannot shop online to order by phone.

Marks and Spencer

Limits to shopping hours Closure of all cafes.

Purchase restrictions Maximum two items per customer of frozen food, home products, groceries and eggs.

Vulnerable customers First hour of trading reserved for older and vulnerable customers.

Other Special shopping hour for NHS and emergency service workers during first hour of trade each Tuesday and Friday morning. 4,600 employees from clothing, home and cafe teams drafted in to help at food stores. Working with suppliers to increase production of British food products.


Initially launched an online queueing system to enter the website. Access to suspended due to delivery slots being fully booked and site at full capacity. After the suspension, Ocado says it will prioritise vulnerable and elderly customers.


Joanna Partridge

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Waitrose voted UK's best supermarket
Upmarket grocer tops Which? customer satisfaction survey for third successive year while Asda languishes at bottom of table

Rebecca Smithers Consumer affairs correspondent

16, Feb, 2017 @12:01 AM

Article image
Supermarket shoppers can get their Christmas dinner for £20 – survey
Cost of buying 11 festive ingredients comes to £19.82 if consumers shop around across Aldi, Lidl, Asda, Morrisons and Iceland

Rebecca Smithers

30, Nov, 2016 @1:00 AM

Article image
Supermarket deliveries: how UK services stack up for price and choice
The Covid crisis has made many people rethink how they shop – we test the rival options

Patrick Collinson

05, Sep, 2020 @6:00 AM

Article image
Sports Direct doesn't need consultants, it should listen to its shareholders
Mike Ashley’s firm announced an external evaluation of the board, but the problems are obvious to all ... except Keith Hellawell

Graham Ruddick

18, Aug, 2016 @6:31 PM

Article image
Which? reveals its pick of the best supermarket luxury mince pies
Panel blind-tests 11 premium mince pies – and picks M&S as the favourites

Patrick Collinson

21, Nov, 2019 @12:01 AM

Article image
Inflation adds £15 to Britain’s Christmas groceries bills
Rate hits 3.5%, with the return of shoppers to supermarkets pushing sales to £11.7bn

Joanna Partridge

05, Jan, 2022 @2:58 PM

Article image
Supermarkets face tough Christmas as pressure from discounters mounts
With profits tumbling at Sainsbury’s and Asda scaling back its Black Friday discounts, we examine which retailer is in the best shape for the festive season

Graham Ruddick

11, Nov, 2015 @2:17 PM

Article image
UK supermarket sales suffer worst fall for at least two years
Analysts at Kantar Worldpanel say grocery market declined by 1.1% during four weeks to 17 July

Sarah Butler

26, Jul, 2016 @3:35 PM

Article image
Don't buy milk from Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl or Londis, say dairy farmers

Milk farmers say supermarkets are driving them to bankruptcy after cut to 'farm gate' price from 30p to 25p a litre

Patrick Collinson

27, Jul, 2012 @10:01 PM

Article image
UK supermarkets move to cut antibiotic use in farming
Iceland, Asda and Aldi lag behind but other major retailers make good progress

Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent

29, Jan, 2020 @6:00 AM