Tesco’s chief executive Dave Lewis has urged customers to keep calm amidst Covid-19
It’s been a tough week for the whole country. No one is untouched. No one is immune to the challenges we face as a country. Covid-19 is bringing huge changes to the way we live and work.
Sadly, we are closer to the beginning of all this than the end, but it’s clear that our national spirit is alive and well and nowhere is that more evident than in food retail.
We’ll play our part but anyone watching the news knows that this last week has been extraordinary for all shops.
As a nation we bought more food than ever. We added extras to our baskets and trolleys. We queued inside and out and we did more shops.
Every food store in the land experienced the impact of that surge in demand and yes, there have been empty shelves and shortages of some products as a result.
Our colleagues have been worked off their feet trying to re-stock shelves. They’re working round the clock. They’re refilling fast, but stock is selling out faster.
We’ve made adjustments to our opening hours, so that we can keep our stores clean, replenish stock and allow our colleagues to rest.
In Tesco there’s a team of 300,000 going above and beyond working in stores that are as busy as we have ever seen them. So, I’m pleased to say that those incredible colleagues will now be joined by the first of 20,000 new recruits hired over just the last few days.
It’s been heartening to see a huge effort behind the scenes – between employers, unions and Government – to give people the chance to keep working and to try to keep wages coming in.
We’re working together and we’re trying to protect families and livelihoods while feeding Britain.
We’re also making changes which mean we can better help healthcare staff, the elderly and more vulnerable customers.
Today, we’re opening an hour early to allow vital NHS workers the window they need to look after their families in between the long hours they dedicate to looking after ours.
In Tesco, there’s a team of 300,000 working in stores that are as busy as they have ever been
I hope our customers will understand when I ask that they hold back to let these people shop. The hour for elderly and vulnerable people didn’t work universally well this week but we will persevere, we just need the help of everyone to allow this prioritisation.
Tough times inevitably mean tough decisions too. This week we’ve talked to our customers about how we ensure more people have access to everyday essentials.
We’ve introduced restrictions that the majority think are fair – three items per customer on every product line. For now, we are also cutting back on multi-buys and some promotions, so that there’s enough to go round.
Where pressure is particularly high, we’re simplifying our range to get more of the most popular products on shelves. Take milk. Right now shoppers mostly want two and four pints so we’ll create capacity by removing single pints for a while.
Just one of many little changes we’re making but we’d like you to make a little change too…
If you’re heading out today or next week we ask one thing: buy only what you need, so that there is enough for everyone.
Maybe at the end of each aisle ask yourself: ‘Next week, do I need everything in my trolley or basket?’
If the answer is ‘no’, then please consider putting some things back on shelves. If all of us do just a bit of that, then every little will help.
Here’s why: we’ve increased the daily flow of food to stores to record levels. Tesco lorries alone covered millions of miles last week sending up to double the normal amounts of milk, bread, rice and pasta. Other food items are going to stores every day at vastly increased volumes too.
A word on one of our national obsessions: we’d normally sell two million packs of toilet roll – last week we delivered to stores a whopping 3.4million!
We know there is enough food and essentials for everyone. It’s those extras in every shop which create the big peaks in demand emptying the shelves.
If we all work together, and if we all shop normally together, we can all be more certain. We can fear one less thing: putting food on the table for ourselves and our loved ones.
Finally, I want to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who’s shown patience and appreciation to our store colleagues. Many of them are also worried about their own families and loved ones as they work selflessly to look after millions of shoppers.
Small gestures go a long way. It’s that spirit I talked about earlier.
Without doubt, we’ll get through and we’ll do it by working hard and working together. I’ve been a part of the Tesco team for six years, and there’s never been a time where our colleagues haven’t been willing to rise to a challenge.
There will be some issues and some disappointment, but we’ll step up, crack-on and do our very best.
Together, we can do this.
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