Coronavirus: What are the Supermarkets Doing?

With many people unable to get to the shops, supermarkets are doing their bit to ensure that these people can still buy what they need. Here’s our round-up of their services.

Last updated 9 April 2020


Which? has a useful round-up on opening times, priority times for elderly and vulnerable people and key workers, plus restrictions on purchases.


Food boxes are available for people who are unable to shop in-store. These cost from £30 to £45 with a choice of five boxes for meat eaters, vegetarians and so on. The box contents will vary and Morrison can’t tailor them for individuals (such as to avoid allergens). Orders made online before 3pm are delivered next day.

Morrisons also has a Doorstep Delivery service for “vulnerable and elderly members of the community, unable to go shopping in-store”. This is a telephone ordering service with a small list of available products. Deliveries are made within 24 hours and payments are taken by contactless card by the driver.

Meanwhile, workers from Marie Curie and CLIC Sargent charity shops are stationed in Morrisons stores to help elderly and vulnerable people with their shopping.

NHS staff have exclusive use of Morrison stores from 7am to 9am, Monday to Saturday.


UPDATED: Sainsbury’s has launched Volunteer Shopping Cards to allow people to shop on behalf of others. E-Gift cards are purchased online and emailed to a friend or volunteer, who can use it to pay for shopping.

Sainsbury’s is giving priority access to online home delivery slots to existing customers who are classed as “extremely vulnerable” (ie the 1.5m people with underlying health issues who have received a letter from the NHS). Its website says it has contacted 270,000 people in this group and is in the process of identifying and contacting others. There doesn’t appear to be a way to self-refer onto this list.

Elderly and disabled customers and their carers have exclusive access to shops on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays from 8am to 9am. NHS and social care workers with NHS ID can access shops from 7:30am Monday-Saturday.

Read the latest from Sainsbury’s here.


Tesco is working on a similar scheme to Sainsbury’s, giving clinically vulnerable and isolated people priority access to home delivery slots.  Tesco says it is working with a list of 110,000 people it received from the Government and has marched 75,000 of them with its existing customer database. It is expecting to receive more data from the Government and will continue to contact these customers. There doesn’t appear to be a way to self-refer onto this list.

Vulnerable and elderly customers have exclusive access to large stores on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am to 10am. NHS staff (with an NHS staff card) have exclusive access to large stores on Tuesdays and Thursday from 9am to 10am, plus “an hour before the checkout opens” on Sundays.

The latest updates from Tesco can be found here.


ASDA has introduced a Volunteer Shopping Card scheme. It provides a “contactless, safe and secure way to allow other people to shop for those who can’t get to the shops”. The person in need of shopping buys credit, which can be emailed to the person who is shopping for them. The person shopping simply needs to present the barcode in the email to pay for the shopping. This scheme appears to be designed for one-to-one support (rather than via an organisation), as the website asks for the shopper and the purchaser’s name and email address.

Get the latest information from ASDA here.


Waitrose offers a similar service via its existing Waitrose Gift Card Scheme, where E-gift cards can be emailed to someone so they can do their shopping. As with ASDA, the remaining balance stays with the shopper rather than the person being shopped for, so it’s suitable for one-to-one support rather than via an organisation.

Waitrose is committed to reserving “at least 25%” of its online delivery slots for elderly and vulnerable customers, although its website doesn’t explain how it is identifying them. It does state, “To allow us to cope with demand, we are asking customers to wait for communication from us rather than trying to get in touch.”

Read the latest information from Waitrose here.

Marks & Spencer

M&S also has an E-gift card scheme that allows housebound people to pre-pay for shopping and email the virtual card to someone who is shopping for them.

The first hour of trading is reserved for vulnerable and older customers on Mondays and Thursday, and key workers on Tuesdays and Fridays.

M&S’s latest coronavirus information can be found here.


Co-Op acknowledges that its online delivery service is heavily over-subscribed, and is limiting online orders to 20 items.

Vulnerable customers and their carers plus NHS workers have exclusive access to stores from 8am to 9am Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 11am on Sundays.



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