Supermarket boss says there is no need to start panic buying
The boss of Iceland has said that there is no need to begin panic buying, but that the “pingdemic” risks shutting stores up and down the country.
Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland, told 5Live’s Breakfast show that photographs of empty shelves were “isolated incidents”.
Over 500,000 people were alerted by the app in the week up to the 7 July, leading to various industry’s being impacted.
“We certainly don’t want to go back to the dark days of April 2020 because panic buying is only an option for those who can afford it and it often means that others go without,” Walker said.
He added that Iceland’s supply chains were “resilient”.
Walker believes that retail workers need to be made exempt from isolating should they be alerted by the NHS app as having come into contact with someone with Covid-19.
The government maintain that it is essential that all those alerted must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.
“We’re not naming key individuals,” he said. “We just need a blanket exemption for all retail workers as key workers.
“All of the other elements that keep our economy turning, like HGV drivers, where we also have an issue.”
Around 1000 Iceland workers, almost four per cent of its staff, are currently absent for Covid-related reasons. Most of these are in the North East.
“That could get a lot worse a lot quicker unless the track and trace system is sorted out,” Walker said.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said shops were facing increased pressure to keep shelves stocked amid rising numbers of workers being forced to isolate.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the BRC, called for retail workers and suppliers to be allowed back to work if they were double vaccinated or had tested negative for Covid-19.
“To ensure there is no disruption to the public’s ability to get food and other goods,” he said.