Supermarket shoppers are being forced to wait up to three weeks for a delivery slot as grocery giants are flooded with online orders.
Customers looking to book a time for their food to be dropped off at home are facing a wall of ‘unavailability’ as Britons turn to shopping via the web amid the third national lockdown.
While supermarkets are still open, and stepping up enforcement around face masks, Boris Johnson’s stay at home orders and the high number of Covid cases means many are choosing to do their grocery shopping online instead.
However, with so many sharing the same idea, delivery slots are quickly being snapped up, with Tesco fully booked all the way until February 3 for many living in and around the capital.
It comes as the supermarket giant today said a surge in Christmas food shopping has driven ‘strong’ recent sales which are expected to help offset soaring coronavirus costs.
Elsewhere, some customers are having to wait until Sunday evening to get a Morrison’s order, Monday for Asda and a whole week for Sainsbury’s, while Ocado and Waitrose’s websites have no availability at all on their sites, though they haven’t included dates beyond January 17 and 24 respectively.
Most of the slots that are available usually come late in the evening, with many coming even after 9pm.
Slots are available sooner from all the major supermarkets in other areas of the country, however.
Supermarket shoppers are being forced to wait up to three weeks for a delivery slot as grocery giants are flooded with online orders
Tesco is fully booked all the way until February 3 for many living in and around the capital
One exasperated shopper wrote: ‘My life currently consists of refreshing Tesco all day to get a delivery slot’
Another messaged Sainsbury’s asking: ‘We are shielding but cannot get a delivery slot for at least a week and half. Last lockdown you were wonderful with deliveries to me and Mum. Is it possible to ‘register’ our situation and get a regular delivery slot?’
Shoppers have been left exasperated by the wait and taken to social media to share their frustration.
One wrote: ‘My life currently consists of refreshing Tesco all day to get a delivery slot’.
Another said: ‘Off to @AsdaServiceTeam @asda because I can never get a delivery slot! Although I’m sure I should hit priority delivery! So I’m having to break the rules and drive well over 5 miles to get there!!’
A third messaged Sainsbury’s asking: ‘We are shielding but cannot get a delivery slot for at least a week and half. Last lockdown you were wonderful with deliveries to me and Mum. Is it possible to ‘register’ our situation and get a regular delivery slot?’
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: ‘We continue to prioritise vulnerable customers for our home delivery service and we have more than doubled the number of slots available to our customers since this time last year. Now we can deliver groceries to over 800,000 customers every week.’
Tesco is the latest grocer to report positive sales momentum over the Christmas period amid heightened Covid-19 restrictions, but now expects the pandemic to cost it £810 million this year, with the increased severity of the virus in recent months causing it to increase its previous prediction by £85 million.
The retailer said group like-for-like sales increased by 6.1% over the 19 weeks to January 9, as it was particularly buoyed by 8.1% growth during the final six weeks of the period.
Tesco said online sales grew by more than 80% over the 19 weeks, as staff delivered more than seven million Christmas orders.
It told investors on Thursday that its large stores have seen sales grow strongly as customers favour bigger but less frequent shopping trips.
In the update to the stock market, the group also said its ‘comprehensive preparations and our strong relationships with suppliers’ have allowed it to maintain strong levels of availability during the Brexit transition period.
Chief executive Ken Murphy said: ‘Our focus on looking after our customers, including delivering record availability, robust safety measures and great value, has enabled us to maintain strong momentum through the Christmas period, outperforming the market every week.
‘We delivered a record Christmas across all of our formats and channels.
In some areas, deliveries with Sainsbury’s are not available for a week, until Thursday evening
Waitrose is unable to let customers in some areas book at any point until next Sunday
The Ocado website says it has no more slots available after this coming Sunday
For this week, Morrison’s only has delivery slots available late on Sunday night for some parts of the country
The Prime Minister said ‘teething problems’ were to blame for a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in Ulster in the past weeks – branding the situation as ‘absurd’.
Sainsbury’s (Bangor, Co Down branch pictured), Marks & Spencer and Tesco have all faced supply issues after the new customs paperwork came in following the transition period ending on January 1
Retailers have warned that shops in Northern Ireland could face further problems unless the EU is prepared to extend the ‘grace period’ in the Brexit agreement
‘Our colleagues went above and beyond, rising to every challenge in the most exceptional of circumstances and I thank every one of them for this.
‘We’re in great shape to keep delivering in 2021 and beyond.’
It comes as Boris Johnson today sent a clear warning to the EU that he would bypass Brexit trade rules between Britain and Northern Ireland as he blamed ‘bureaucracy’ for empty supermarket shelves in Ulster.
The Prime Minister said ‘teething problems’ were to blame for a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in the past weeks – branding the situation as ‘absurd’.
Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and Tesco have all faced supply issues after the new customs paperwork came in following the transition period ending on January 1.
Fresh fruit, vegetables and chilled meat are among the products most affected as many food suppliers face delays on getting goods into Northern Ireland.
But facing the Commons Liaison Committee Mr Johnson said the Government would invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol – which allows it to unilaterally impose safeguards – if serious issues arise.
‘What I can certainly guarantee is that if there are serious problems in… supplying supermarkets in Northern Ireland because of some piece of bureaucracy that’s misapplied, then we will simply exercise Article 16 of the protocol,’ he said.
‘It is absurd that there should be such difficulties.’
Tesco, Asda, Morrison’s, Waitrose and Ocado have been approached for comment on the wait for delivery slots.