COVID-19: A message to our customers from Dave Lewis, Tesco CEO

It is fair to say that we find ourselves in uncharted waters. COVID-19 is bringing a change to the UK and it’s clear that lots of things are going to have to shift around in order to help us cope.

At Tesco, we have been doing everything we can to keep business as usual, but we now have to accept it is not business as usual. In the last two weeks, we have seen significant and prolonged increases in demand across all of our stores and this is leading to shortages in some products for some customers.

Reacting to the latest government announcements, we have to plan on this situation being the new normal and we will do all that we can to make the food you want available, but we need your help.

In order to protect the core shopping essentials, we are going to implement some changes in our stores. The changes are designed to simplify what we do so that we can provide more of what people need in a clean and safe environment. We ask for your understanding and your support.

From Thursday 19 March we will start to implement the following changes:

  • To ensure more people have access to everyday essentials, we are introducing a storewide restriction of only 3 items per customer on every product line, and removing multi-buy promotions.
    In order to allow Tesco colleagues to focus on stocking shelves, helping to provide the essential groceries you are looking for and to avoid waste, we will close all meat, fish, deli counters and salad bars.
  • To be able to ensure our stores are clean, that we can replenish stock, and allow our colleagues to rest, we will change our trading hours with all stores closing at 10pm.
  • To ensure we are doing everything possible to reduce the risk of infection for both our customers and colleagues, we will be introducing some distancing measures at the checkout and, to make it swifter, invite customers who can, to pay by card.
  • To help free up slots for the more vulnerable, such as our elderly customers and those who are self-isolating, we are encouraging customers who shop online or choose Click+Collect for their grocery home shopping, to prioritise shopping in-store where possible.
  • To ensure our more vulnerable and elderly customers can shop in-store, we will prioritise one hour every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning between 9-10am (except in our Express stores) and ask that you respect this.
  • Tesco store colleagues can't work from home and a good number of them will need to respond to personal or family challenges connected with dealing with COVID-19. So we would please ask that you understand the challenging environment in which we are all working. If you do go in-store and want to say thank you, then I'm sure they'd appreciate it.

So, if you could help us by limiting demand of essential items and allowing us to focus on the core needs of our customers – we are confident that we can continue to feed the nation. We are delivering food daily to our stores, but this is a very challenging time and we will only get through this if we work together.

Thank you for your support.

Dave Lewis
Tesco CEO



Q. What are you doing to help groups that are more vulnerable such as the elderly and those that are self-isolating?

  • We’re making the following changes to support customers that may be elderly, more vulnerable or self-isolating:
    To help free up more grocery home shopping delivery slots for these customers, we’re encouraging those who usually shop online to choose Click+collect or to prioritise shopping in-store, where possible.
  • We will also be introducing a priority shopping hour every Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 9am-10am for our more vulnerable and elderly customers. We’re asking other customers to respect this and not to go to stores at this time.

Q. How long will this be for?
There is no set time frame, we are monitoring the situation closely and doing whatever we can to make things easier for our customers.

Q. What about customers buying on behalf of vulnerable customers?
We understand that many people will be restricted as to when they can do their shop. All we ask is that customers are mindful of those more vulnerable and give them the time and space to have an easier shopping experience.

Q. Will this be in all stores?
This will take place in all Extras, Superstores and Metros. It will not be available in our Express stores.


Q. What are you doing to ensure customers are able to buy grocery essentials?
To help our customers get the things they need at this time, we are introducing a purchase limit of 3 items on all our products. Our stock levels are good, and we have daily deliveries to replenish our stores. We have also removed multi-buy promotions such as buy 2 and get 3rd free. We continue to encourage customers to buy only what they need, to help ensure there is enough for everyone.


Q. Why are counters unavailable in stores at the moment?
We want to make sure we are focusing our efforts on the areas that are most in demand in our stores and on giving customers access to the essentials. Customers are increasingly shopping for pre-packaged goods. By temporarily closing our counters we can focus colleagues on replenishing these goods, where we are seeing highest demand.

Q. Which counters will be closed?
All fresh food counters will be closing temporarily, including deli, salad, fish and meat counters. Our bakeries will continue as usual.

Q. How long will the counters be closed for?
This is a temporary closure and we plan on reopening the counters as soon as we can. No exact date has been confirmed for reopening and this will depend on the current situation.


Q. Why are the store opening hours changing?
We are changing store hours to ensure we can serve customers better at this time. By closing all stores from 10pm, our colleagues will have time overnight to restock the store, replenish the shelves and support our online grocery service at a time when demand is high.

Q. Is this across all stores?
Yes but a few large stores with pharmacies will continue to stay open past 10pm.


Q. Why are distancing measures being implemented in stores?
Our priority is the safety of customers and colleagues. Following guidance from the Government to maintain social distancing of 2-metres, we’re introducing some signs in stores to help customers navigate our stores more quickly, while following the latest safety advice.

Q. What are the floor markings at the checkout for?
We have introduced two floor markings to help customers follow the latest safety advice on social distancing:

  • Green markings: indicate where you should now stand to pack and pay.
  • Red markings: indicate that you must not stand or queue in this area. 

Q. What about the hard of hearing or disabled that may need to have additional colleague support?
Colleagues are always on hand to provide support to any customers who need help.

Q. Are you scrapping cash payments in stores?
Not at all. We are asking customers to use card payments where possible as an extra precaution to reduce the risk of infection for both our customers and colleagues.



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