Panic buying begins ahead of lockdown as shoppers strip supermarket shelves bare

Shoppers are once again reporting panic buyers stocking up on essentials such as toilet roll – despite supermarkets saying there is plenty to go around.

Last night Boris Johnson put England back into a national lockdown from Wednesday, ordering schools to close until the middle of next month.

Pictures show shelves looking bare and shoppers leaving with trolleys piled high with items.

Toilet roll, vegetables and rice have reportedly been running low in some stores.

Retailers have also experienced increased demand for online delivery slots after Mr Johnson’s announcement.

Food stores and shops selling essential goods are allowed to stay open during the lockdown – prompting calls for people to show consideration for others.

One furious Twitter user wrote: “People panic buying again…. didn’t they realise that last time people did this they had to throw away most of their food… stop being selfish and think about others that…. we are all going through the same situation.”

Following the Prime Minister’s statement from Downing Street, users reported issues trying to shop online.

Sainsbury’s app is said to have gone down temporarily last night, while Tesco also experienced issues with its online operations and Morrisons and Ocado were forced to place shoppers in virtual queues.

Websites appeared to be running largely as normal on Tuesday, but with little availability left for home delivery slots.

Sainsbury’s said it had temporarily limited access to its online groceries service on Monday night to “manage high demand for slots and updates customers were making to existing orders”.

Tesco said bosses were holding discussions to review the item limit for online baskets, as well as product restrictions across popular items such as toilet rolls, antibacterial wipes and pasta.

E-commerce expert Rebecca Crook fears supermarkets may struggle with demand.

She said: “While I’m sure many retailers have improved the performance and load capacity of their sites, they haven’t fully scaled to the capacity they need to in order to reach demands like we experienced last night.

“Cost will no doubt be one of the core reasons for this so they will balance that with providing virtual queues and not providing a great online customer experience.”

The sector has been flooded with demand amid tightening restrictions over the past two months.

Industry figures show a record month for supermarkets in December.

Britons spent £11.7 billion in supermarkets throughout December in their busiest month ever, with trade boosted by the closure of restaurants, bars and cafes across most of the UK, according to Kantar.