Supermarkets to open for elderly customers only amid Covid-19 crisis

Safefood research has revealed a large amount of unhealthy food is put on special offer by stores

Initiative comes amid widespread calls from the public

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16 March 2020 | 0

Supermarkets are introducing dedicated opening hours for the elderly and vulnerable amid the nationwide panic buying of goods.

Lidl Ireland stated that all 163 of its stores will implement priority shopping for the elderly from 9am to 11am until further notice. In a statement published on Twitter, the discounter asked the public to “respect this time period to allow more vulnerable customers to pick up the food and supplies they need.”

The initiative is also seen as a way to limit contact between the old and young. Elderly folk are believed to be the highest-risk age category, which is why it is hoped to give older people more peace of mind as they shop.

A Dundalk supermarket has pledged to give older people free reign of the store for an hour each day. From 18 March, SuperValu Fairways will open its doors from 7am to 8am for elderly people only.

Management has requested that the public respect its decision, stating on the store’s official Facebook page: “Could the wider public please respect this hour and understand that this time is allocated for elderly people. This includes people who have mobility issues i.e. wheelchairs, walking aids.”

Amid widespread calls from the public, several stores have already implemented the change. From 7am to 8.30am, Scally’s SuperValu in Cork opens for the elderly and those that may struggle with crowds. Further, Iceland in Belfast has set aside special hours for the elderly. In a statement, the company said it “would be great to see other stores now do the same”.

In Edinburgh, the owner of the Day-Today convenience store has taken a proactive approach to the outbreak. Zahid Iqbal has distributed free ‘survival’ packs which include toilet roll, anti-bacterial handwash, pocket tissues and paracetamol to his elderly and infirm customers. What’s more, anyone unable to pick up their pack can have it delivered to their house at no charge.

Despite the public panic, industry body Retail Excellence has reassured shoppers that the supply to grocery stores will continue and that “more than adequate contingencies are in place”.

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