Tesco is limiting new online shopping orders to 80 items following a surge in order sizes as households fill their fridges, freezers and cupboards amid the coronavirus lockdown.
The UK’s biggest retailer said the restriction would also allow its expanded delivery operation to serve more customers, especially the vulnerable, as the grocery sector battles high demand while keeping staff and customers safe at the same time.
The chain said a typical online shopping basket ahead of the COVID-19 crisis would have averaged around 60 items but many, more recently, were totalling over 100.
A spokesperson said: “We know that it’s difficult to get a delivery slot for online shopping at the moment due to high demand, and we ask those who are able to safely come to stores to do so, instead of shopping online, so that we can start to free up more slots for the more vulnerable.
“We’re looking at every opportunity to increase the number of slots available and by introducing a limit of 80 items per online order we’ll be able to get more orders onto each van, helping us to ensure all customers can get the essentials they need.”
It made the announcement as the major supermarket chains make use of government data to help get deliveries to those most at risk from COVID-19.
An Asda spokesman said: “We have a dedicated team who will work with government on the available data to support as many extremely vulnerable people as we can – whilst also continuing to ensure our stores are stocked and our deliveries are moving for millions of customers nationwide.”
Grocers have been on a hiring spree to bolster warehouse, store and delivery staff.
The Co-op, which announced the creation of 5,000 jobs last week, said it had seen an “unprecedented” response with every position filled.
The chain expected it expected every recruit to be working by the weekend.
Its chief executive, Jo Whitfield, said: “Just one week ago we asked members of the British public who needed jobs to come forward and join forces with us.
“The response has been overwhelming as people pull together to feed the nation. All of our colleagues are heroes and are doing an amazing job under huge pressure.”