Shoppers have been urged not to start panic buying amid empty shelves and supply shortages in Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Lidl stores across the country.
In scenes reminiscent of the start of the Covid pandemic in March 2020, shelves across countless supermarkets up and down the country have been sparse, leaving frustrated customers speculating what could possibly be the cause of the issue.
Now shoppers have been warned by industry bosses there could be further more empty shelves because of a collapse in the supply chain.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said: “In the next two to three weeks we are facing a collapse of the supply chain meaning even bigger gaps on supermarket shelves.
“We already have hauliers unable to move goods on a daily basis and we’re now facing a perfect storm.
“This is a crisis on a scale we have never seen before in this industry and the government is burying its head in the sand.
“It is not recognising the seriousness.”
A Morrisons spokeswoman told the BBC: “As per the whole of the UK, we are experiencing a rise in cases and close contact notifications.
“We provide guidance and support for colleagues who may need to self-isolate including sick pay and have covid secure controls in place in all our stores to ensure we can continue to operate and keep them open.
“Throughout the whole of the pandemic, we have not been required to close a store.”
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has acknowledged industry-wide problems but said stores are working closely with suppliers so customers can still buy what they need.
But what’s actually causing these shortages?
Well, a large part of the problem can be credited to the ongoing lack of HGV drivers – Tesco recently revealed that the shortage in drivers is resulting in forty-eight tonnes of food waste each week as fresh goods destined for its stores are being left to rot.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimates there is currently a shortfall of up to 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK – and as well as this issue, the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit are also being blamed for shortages, The Mirror reports.
The Covid pandemic has seen travel become extremely restricted, with haulage companies saying their European drivers have simply decided not to return to the UK due to the virus and Brexit.
The recent reopening of all shops and hospitality establishments such as nightclubs also means there’s been a sudden demand for certain goods.
Amid all of these issues, the RHA has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take action on the HGV driver shortage.
In response, the government says it has ramped up testing for lorry drivers, is paying for more apprentices and is allowing current drivers to increase their working hours. But, even before Covid, the estimated shortage of drivers was around 60,000.
Other circumstances that have been blamed on causing delays include the earlier blockage of the Suez Canal.
Despite all the issues with supply, customers are being warned not to panic buy.
Primary school in Greater Manchester evacuated after nearby ‘gas explosion’
A primary school in Greater Manchester has been evacuated after a ‘gas explosion’ at a nearby house.
The incident happened earlier today (February 28th) near to St Luke’s primary school in Bury.
Councillor Tamoor Tariq said everyone who lived nearby has also been taken to a place of safety after the blast, which happened in the Fishpool area.
At around 12pm, he posted on Facebook: “Heartbreaking to share there has been a gas explosion in the last few minutes right across from my house.
“I understand everyone has been taken into a place of safety and emergency services are doing all possible to deal with this awful situation.
“St Luke’s primary have also evacuated children, as they are just yards away. I remain out of the country due to a family member being critical, but I am keeping in touch with all relevant people/authorities.”
In a further comment, Mr Tamoor added: “An elderly neighbour has been taken into hospital, all others affected are in a safe and secure place of their choosing. Praying our neighbour will be ok and get the treatment she needs.”
A Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said ‘multiple crews’ had been dispatched to the scene.
They added: “Residents in the area are advised to keep windows and doors closed and avoid the scene while crews carry out their work.”
A woman in her 70s has been taken to hospital with ‘serious injuries’, Greater Manchester Police said.
Issuing a statement on social media, GMP said: “Emergency services are currently responding to a report of an explosion at a property on Nelson Street in the Fishpool area of Bury.
“At this stage, a woman in her 70s has been taken to hospital with serious injuries. A 200 metre cordon is in place around the property and neighbouring homes.
“Local residents and the community will be made aware if they need to take any further action.”
Iceland announces it’s discounting baby formula to cut price of £7.95
Iceland CEO Richard Walker says says ‘businesses need to step up and do more’
Iceland has launched reduced cost baby formula in a bid to do more to help families through the cost of living crisis.
Iceland CEO Richard Walker is determined to bring down the cost of baby formula, and says ‘businesses need to step up and do more’.
The businessman has made it his mission after hearing heartbreaking tales from parents who have been struggling to feed their families amid spiralling costs.
Mr Walker, a dad-of-two, told Metro: “We’ve heard terrible stories of customers watering down feeds, skipping feeds or ignoring sell by dates, all of which is really bad for the baby. That prompted us to take action.”
Iceland slashed prices earlier this year, revealing three of its Aptamil formula milk products would sell at £11.20 – a move which led other supermarkets including Asda and Tesco to reduce their own prices.
Now, Iceland has confirmed it is selling 800g of SMA’s Little Steps formula milk for £7.95 across its stores and online from Tuesday February 27th – £1.80 cheaper than its rivals.
Mr Walker insisted it’s not just a clever business move either, as he continued: “The price is a mind-blowing £7.95 which makes it the cheapest infant formula milk on the market. I think it will really really help our customers.
“We’re not making any profit out of this now. We’re passing on the savings which we’re managing to persuade the manufacturer to give straight on to our customers.”
The baby formula industry is currently under investigation after prices rose by an average of 25% in the past two years.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said it is looking into whether companies have been exploiting parents for profit.
Iceland’s launch of lower priced baby formula has also gained the support of Mumsnet.
The eight-million strong parenting group have announced they are joining forces with Formula For Change – Metro’s campaign to lower baby formula prices.
Mr Walker has also signed the petition and is calling on parents to sign it and help push it over the line.
Politicians may soon be forced to address the scandal as the Formula for Change petition is almost at the 100,000 signatures mark – the crucial threshold needed for a parliamentary debate on the issue.
Mr Walker also told the publication: “Formula for Change is absolutely fantastic. The Prime Minister has said he is ‘sad’ families are watering down formula to try and make it last longer, but again these are just words.”
Manchester’s derelict arches set to be transformed into food, drink and retail destination
The plans will transform the empty site into a trendy new hangout for tenants and working professionals
Several derelict railway arches in a forgotten corner of Manchester are set to become a new food, drink, leisure and retail destination.
The council have granted planning permission to revamp the 10 arches, located on Corporation Street in Red Bank, with the project to be undertaken by The Arch Company – which has also secured permission from Salford Council to transform a further 10 arches, located on Norton Street in the Green Quarter.
The vision is to turn the area, near Angel Meadow, into a street of arches that appeal to potential residents looking to move to a trendy area, with plenty to do, in the city.
The company has pitched the development as a plan to transform the arches into a new destination ‘for food and drink, leisure and retail businesses to occupy’, while respecting and maintaining the city’s industrial history.
Santosh Patel, from Pick Everard – the construction consultants brought into the project – said: “Manchester is famously proud of its industrial heritage, and this project not only maintains and celebrates that history, but rejuvenates it in an exciting and innovative way to bring added social value to the city’s modern landscape and its residents.
“Seeing this project to completion will bring a new offering to Manchester, further regenerating its town centre in a way that makes sense within its larger community.”
“The new spaces present a great opportunity for independent retail, restaurant, and other leisure businesses to develop in an area that will grow and thrive with them,” he added.
However, breathing new life into deteriorating Victorian railway arches will not be without its challenges as Alan Soper, studio director at SGP, highlighted that one issue on Corporation Street was ‘substantial level differences from the front to the rear of many of the units’.
He added that ‘clever design’ was needed for requirements like fire escapes — because the arches back on to the River Irk, so an exit route can only go through the front.
Mr Soper said: “By any standards, arches are not a ‘normal’ building type and each can differ considerably in height, depth and shape, realising the potential of these previously overlooked spaces takes experience and good technical know-how if we are to refurbish them to modern occupancy standards.”
“Our previous experience with old, historic or listed properties, and the ability to work within the existing building fabric, has proved invaluable in realising some of these schemes, as, too, has our technical knowledge of building regulations, particularly in relation to ventilation and fire security,” he added.
Both the Manchester and Salford arches developments form part of Project 1000, The Arch Company’s £200m plan to bring 1,000 empty or derelict spaces into use across England and Wales by 2030.
Got a story to tell?
Have you got a story or video you think our audience will love? We want to hear from you, drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you.