Supermarkets are giving priority to the vulnerable, elderly and NHS workers, with restrictions in-store and online

Supermarkets have faced a surge in demand from shoppers, with many stocking up on essentials. This has led to empty shelves and queues at some supermarkets, with products such as toilet roll and tinned goods increasingly hard to get in some places and some online delivery slots selling out weeks ahead.

This has meant getting groceries has become a real concern for some – and to help, some supermarkets have introduced priority shopping times or online delivery slots for the elderly and vulnerable as well as NHS workers. The exact way it works varies from supermarket to supermarket, so check – but NHS workers, for instance, may be asked to show their NHS badge when entering a store.

Many have also brought significant restrictions, limiting shoppers to buying a certain number of the same item, restricting opening times and in some cases stopping accepting online orders altogether.

Here’s the latest on what supermarkets are doing. Note – this is changing extremely rapidly. The info below was the latest we had as of 4pm on Tuesday 24 March. If you’ve spotted something else or something that’s changed, please let us know at

                                    Supermarket                                               Max no of same item you can buy (in-store and online) Priority shopping for elderly/ vulnerable/ NHS workers Still accepting online orders? Changes to store opening times
Aldi 4 on all products TBC Does not do home delivery All stores now closing at 8pm. Sun opening unchanged (except in Scot where stores close at 6pm)
Asda 3 on all food, toiletries and cleaning items NHS workers get priority in larger stores on Mon, Wed & Fri 8am-9am In theory yes, for new & existing customers – though when we checked we struggled to access the website or book a slot Reduced to 8am-8pm
Co-op 2 on selected items in-store 1hr in all stores Yes – but can only order up to 20 items per shop Most reduced to 7am to 8pm (24hr stores with petrol stations close 11pm)
Iceland 2 on most items, 1 on some (eg, pasta and toilet roll) Dedicated hours for NHS workers in most stores Only for elderly or vulnerable customers, or those self-isolating Reduced across many stores
Lidl 4 on some items incl cleaning products and tins No special measures Does not do home delivery Changes to some stores – check your branch for details
Morrisons 3 on all products bought online NHS workers only can shop 7am-8am Mon-Sat. Also launching a call centre to take phone orders from customers who don’t shop online In theory yes, for new & existing customers – though when we checked we struggled to book a slot. Morrisons has turned off its app so can only book online Reduced to 8am-8pm Mon-Sat. Sun opening times unchanged.
Ocado (online        only) Essential items limited to 1-2 per order N/A – online-only Only from existing customers, and very large queues N/A – online-only
Sainsbury’s 3 on groceries, 2 on other in-demand products (eg, toilet roll & UHT milk) Mon, Wed & Fri 8am-9am dedicated to elderly, vulnerable and carers. Mon-Sat 7.30am-8am dedicated to NHS and social care workers Still open to new/existing customers though when we checked we struggled to book a slot. Priority given to over-70s/those with disabilities All stores open 8am-8pm Mon-Sat (from 7.30am for NHS and social care workers only) Sun hours unchanged
Tesco 2 on toilet roll/paracetamol, 3 on all other products 1hr between 9am and 10am every Mon, Wed and Fri, at all stores except Express. 1hr before opening at large stores every Sun for NHS Still open to new/existing customers – though when we checked we struggled to find a slot Large 24hr stores closed 10pm to 6am until further notice, though some with pharmacies will stay open beyond 10pm
Waitrose Max of 3 on some groceries, 2 on toilet roll packs – other items such as soaps ‘capped’ First hour of opening across all stores Not officially closed its online grocery service but website frequently down Some stores may close earlier than usual – check with your local store