Supermarket shoppers in Edinburgh waiting weeks to get home delivery and click and collect slots
Many stores are focusing their online order services on the elderly, vulnerable people and those who are self-isolating while other retailers hope to do this once they expand their delivery services.
Supermarkets across Edinburgh have also been controlling the number of shoppers in store today and using social distance markers for people queuing, both inside and outside of stores.
The Evening News today looked at the online order availability at some of the major supermarkets in the Capital. Here is a summary of the home delivery and click and collect slot availability and what the companies are doing to recruit staff and increase capacity...
A search online on Thursday afternoon from an address in Canonmills showed that all home delivery slots are booked up until April 15th, with dates after that not yet available.
Click and Collect services at three available Edinburgh stores – Colinton, Corstorphine and Dalkeith – and the Dunfermline Extra store were also sold out until at least April 16th.
Tesco is seeking every opportunity to increase the number of home delivery slots available and, once their capacity increases, slots will be set aside for the most vulnerable customers.
Tesco launched their online recruitment drive on March 18th and aims to bring in up to 20,000 temporary new collaegues to work in their stores across the UK for at least the next 12 weeks.
Early on Thurday afternoon, the Asda Leith superstore’s next available home delivery slots were two times on the morning of Saturday, April 4th. The delivery charge for those was also priced at £6.50. There were more slots available the following day. The next click and collect service available was Monday, April 6th.
Asda is recruiting 5,000 new temporary worker with many positions in the grocery homes and shopping sector. Staff are also working tirelessly to improve the functionality of the website and offer a larger number of slots to customers.
An Asda spokesman said: “We have recently seen a huge increase of demand for home shopping and we want to let our customers know that we’re working extremely hard to open up new slots every day to meet our customer needs.
“We would ask that any customer who has specific circumstance due to coronavirus lets us know in the ‘other information’ section whilst placing their order.”
The Morrisons website has a queuing system in place before customers can get through. At about 12:45m on Thursday, the wait to reach the front of the queue online was about two hours and 30 minutes. The starting point was around number 128,000 in the queue.
Morrisons says it is creating 3,500 jobs – 2,500 pickers and drivers, plus 1,000 staff in its distribution centres – to try and meet demand.
The company say they are introducing more slots for customers and have launched a new range of ‘simple to order’ food parcels including vegetarian options, from March 23rd.
Morrisons is also delivering food boxes and says it’s working hard to increase production. A typical box will include 20 items, costing around £30, and might include: Canned baked beans, soup and pasta sauce; milk; dairy products such as butter and cheese; bread, rice and pasta; meat products such as sausage, bacon and cooked meat; vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots and onions; fresh meat such as chicken or beef; and essential household items.
Slots for delivery have been booked very quickly given the unprecedented demand – but online slots are being made available every day.
The Morrisons call centre is also open for telephone bookings on Monday, March 30th.
Sainsbury’s is prioritising online delivery and click and collect slots for its elderly and vulnerable customers. They say these customers are being identified through their existing data and are trying to obtain governement data from Scotland to help more people.
The supermarket says it’s recruiting more drivers and logistics staff to help meet demand and are already running at an “extremely high capacity.”
A spokeswoman said: “Our customer careline is working at full capacity to help other vulnerable customers and we are able to give an additional 8,000 customers a day access to delivery slots over the phone.
“We have already booked in slots for 115,000 elderly and vulnerable customers this week and this number is growing every day.
“We are doing our very best, but it’s important to remember that home delivery is a very small part of the grocery market and we are asking communities to work together on this issue.”
The latest statement from CEO Mike Coupe says demand for online grocery delivery is “higher now than it has ever been” and that staff are working hard to increase online capacity by adding more slots in every day. He added: “But it is not possible for us to create enough slots to meet the current level of demand.”
Mr Coupe also stressed that if everyone who is able to shop in store can also shop for a person who is less able, it will “go a long way” to help get food to everyone who needs it.
Iceland supermarket is temporarily limiting online orders to customers who are over state pension age, self-isolating and other vulnerable people, such as disabled. Anyone who doesn’t fall into these categories is asked to complete their shops in store.
The supermarket has already rcruited 3,000 extra store assistants and home delivery drivers to cope with the expected surge in demand and cover for existing staff wgi may need to self isolate.
More home delivery drivers are receiving their training now and Iceland will be increasing the number of online delivery slots they can offer each day as this increased capacity comes on stream.
A spokesperson for the shop said it’s “highly unlikely” they will be able to offer online deliveries to anyone outside the large number of people who fall into the category of elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating.
The UK Government’s department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs has also been taking action to support retailers.
A government spokesperson said: “We’re working with the retailers to get them the information they need – in addition to their own data – to help ensure essential items are delivered as soon as possible to the people with medical conditions that make them most vulnerable. We’re also looking at ways to prioritise those who are at increased risk but are not on the clinically vulnerable list.
“We have also introduced a range of measures to keep food supply flowing and support home deliveries, such as issuing guidance to local authorities to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets so that shelves can be filled up more quickly, and implementing extensions to drivers’ hours.”
Competition laws have also been relaxed to enable retailers to work together to keep shops open and stocked, share data on stock levels, pool staff to meet demand and share distribution depots and delivery vans. The government is also working with local authorities to extend delivery hours to supermarkets to replenish stocks more quickly.
The government is also encouraging people to support their neighbours, friends or family members with their food errands – particularly those who are in vulnerable groups – by picking up essentials for others when doing their own shop.