The government has advised more than 1.5 million clinically vulnerable people to stay home for 12 weeks to protect themselves.
It is believed that approximately 400,000 people do not have a support network of family and friends to help them with their purchases.
Online shopping sites have been inundated with customers who are all competing for the few delivery slots on offer.
Larger supermarkets should have access to the government list of vulnerable people who have no help with shopping, in order to prioritize their online delivery slots.
If you are considered a vulnerable person and you do not have a support network, you can register on the government website here.
But what are all the supermarkets doing to prioritize the elderly and vulnerable?
Tesco will prioritize orders from those on the government’s list of vulnerable people and has stated that it will contact them by email once it has received the full list.
In the meantime, Britain’s largest supermarket has increased its home delivery and “click and take” capacity to 780,000 locations this week, up from 660,000 two weeks ago to reach more people.
He announced plans to increase the number by 100,000 more in the coming weeks. It has already recruited 35,000 new employees in the past ten days, including 2,500 drivers and more than 5,000 preparers.
To allow more time to choose online orders, stores that deliver online groceries will open a little later than usual, starting at 8:00 am.
Dave Lewis, Tesco CEO, said, “We are doing everything we can to increase the number of slots available and to support vulnerable people. Thanks to a series of measures including more drivers, selectors and vans, we will increase the number of slots available each week; but this is still not enough to meet demand. For this reason, it is essential that customers who can come to the shops and do their own shopping do so – so that we can free up as many slots as possible for vulnerable people. “
Sainsbury’s also worked with the government to prioritize the elderly and vulnerable, and by March 25 the supermarket had contacted 270,000 customers who had already provided information to identify them as part of this group.
At that date, it had also reserved slots for 115,000 elderly and vulnerable clients.
The customer service line is operating at full capacity, a spokesperson said, and the group has been able to provide 8,000 additional customers per day with telephone access to delivery slots.
They said, “We are doing our best to provide delivery times to as many people as possible and urge everyone to keep trying.”
Asda has set up a dedicated team to work with the government on the available data in order to support as many extremely vulnerable people as possible.
However, the group does not yet offer priority delivery as it has not been able to identify vulnerable customers without the government’s full list.
An Asda spokesperson said, “We are doing everything we can – and we will continue to urge customers who are able to visit stores to think about how they can help others in their community and if they can buy for them – allowing us to maximize our online capacity for those who need it most. “
Morrisons has made more delivery slots available to customers through its website, but also through its store on Amazon Prime. Prime is a paid service which also provides access to music, movies and TV series.
For people who do not buy online, the supermarket sets up a customer call center for orders to be taken by phone.
To simplify the process, the company has a new range of food packages, especially for vegetarians who can be delivered.
To support the growth in deliveries, Morrisons will recruit approximately 2,500 preparers and drivers.
Waitrose already offers senior and vulnerable customers priority access to delivery slots on its website, but acknowledged that there would not be enough slots to reach everyone.
In order to reserve slots for those who are vulnerable, the group has closed the website to new reservations.
The company has contacted all registered customers over the age of 70 who have an online account and a partnership card. It is also examining how it can reach people on the government’s vulnerable list.
A Waitrose spokesperson said, “We know we won’t be able to reach everyone right away – because we just don’t have the capacity to offer slots for everyone – however, we strive to reach as many of our customers as possible who need home delivery. “
To enable the supermarket to meet demand, it asked customers to wait for more information rather than contacting them.
Ocado requires customers to log in or register before completing an online shopping cart to identify vulnerable and elderly people.
This is done to form a priority access list and has meant that the company has few slots for general publication. Its assistance centers and drivers identify vulnerable customers and modify their operating mode to prioritize their needs.
Ocado is also part of the industry’s efforts with government to identify extremely vulnerable customers.
An Ocado spokesperson said, “We already deliver groceries to many elderly and vulnerable people who have long represented a large proportion of our customers. We hope to receive the government list soon and we will cross-check it with our clientele. “