'I watched a young couple stuffing raw chicken into a suitcase': Staff and shoppers speak of 'locust' at busy Edinburgh supermarket

The Sainsbury’s superstore on Craigleith Road has been feeling the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak as more and more shelves are stripped bare by panic buyers.

By Shona Elliott
Friday, 20th March 2020, 9:28 am
Updated Saturday, 21st March 2020, 1:28 pm

The Sainsbury’s superstore on Craigleith Road has been feeling the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak as more and more shelves are stripped bare by panic buyers.

A shop assistant at the Edinburgh store, who would prefer to remain anonymous, said that she has never seen the shop so busy.

She added: “People have been stockpiling the strangest things. I watched a young couple stuffing raw chicken into a suitcase. They came into the shop with two huge suitcases and started filling them up with chicken and any other meat they could fit in.

Empty shelves in Sainsbury’s Craigleith

“I told them they couldn’t do that and when they didn’t stop I had to get a manager who told them to put everything back.”

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Empty shelves at Sainsbury's in Blackhall, Edinburgh. Panic buyers have stripped the supermarket shelves of food, soap and toilet rolls as fears rise over the spread of the Coronavirus

The Sainsbury’s employee added that while most people are stocking up on pasta rather than poultry, they have seen a huge increase in diversity of stockpiling this week.

Several other major supermarkets across the region have also been hit by panic buyers, leaving aisles of fresh meat, toilet roll and fruit and vegetables unavailable.

Janet Bremner from Gorgie braved the crowds on Thursday morning and tried to do her weekly food shop as normal. But when the retired 71-year-old arrived at Sainsbury’s she was shocked to find the shelves bare.

She said: “I just came in to get my porridge oats, coffee, and milk for my weekly breakfasts and it looks like locusts have attacked the place.

“I shop here every week but I have never seen a shop like this. There are just rows and rows of empty shelves. I don’t know how much longer the shops will cope with people buying like this.”

Jill Richardson, 48, from Edinburgh faced similar problems when trying to buy wine. She said: “I was just trying to buy my mum’s favourite wine for Mother’s Day but there is not a single bottle left.”

Martin Auld, 21 from Granton who works at Sainsbury’s checkouts said: “People have started trying to buy huge amounts of eggs and vegetables as well as wine and beer. There is hardly any fresh fruit left and the alcohol and eggs have started disappearing off the shelves. I know it’s a tough time but we really need to learn to share.”