I wrote to you last week to tell you about some of the steps we are taking to support increased demand for food and other essential items.
After I wrote to you last week, many of you replied. You wrote to share your concerns about our elderly and vulnerable customers and to ask if we can do more to restrict the number of items each person can buy. I have listened to feedback from you and from Sainsbury's colleagues across the country and wanted to share some of the extra steps we are taking to make sure everyone has access to the items that they need:
A number of you suggested that we reserve an hour in stores for elderly and vulnerable customers. In response to this request, we will set aside the first hour in every supermarket this Thursday 19th March, for elderly and vulnerable customers. 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. If you or an elderly family member, friend or neighbour would like to shop during this hour, please check online for your local supermarket opening hours.
We will also help elderly and vulnerable customers access food online. From Monday 23rd March, our online customers who are over 70 years of age or have a disability will have priority access to online delivery slots. We will contact these customers in the coming days with more details.
For any online customer who can travel to our stores, from Monday 23rd March, we will operate an expanded 'click and collect' service. We are significantly increasing the number of collection sites across the country over the coming days in preparation for this. Customers can place their order online as usual and pick it up from a collection point in the store car park. We believe this will also work for people who are self-isolating.
As we work to feed the nation, we are also focusing all of our efforts on getting as much food and other essential items from our suppliers, into our warehouses and onto shelves as we possibly can. We still have enough food for everyone - if we all just buy what we need for us and our families.
To help us get more essential items onto the shelves, from this Thursday 19th March, we will be closing our cafes and our meat, fish and pizza counters in supermarkets. 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.
I mentioned last week that we had put limits on a very small number of products. Following feedback from our customers and from our store colleagues, we have decided to put restrictions on a larger number of products. From tomorrow, Wednesday 18th 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 numbers of customers.
Finally, I wanted to end by saying a huge thank you to Sainsbury's colleagues across the business. Everyone is working flat out in difficult circumstances to do their best to serve our customers. If you're able to say thank you to them when you see them, I know they would hugely appreciate it.
Chief Executive Mike Coupe