No, You Don't Need To Panic Buy (Again) At The Supermarket

The 'pingdemic' is causing some supermarket shortages as staff isolate – but don't panic.

You might experience an unwelcome dose of déjà vu on social media this week, as photographs of empty supermarket shelves are being shared once more.

But you don’t need to panic buy or stockpile loo roll – we had enough of that in March 2020, thank you very much.

The shortages are largely down to the “pingdemic,” with supermarket workers, lorry drivers and factory workers being forced to self-isolate at home after being pinged by the NHS app, highlighting a potential contact with Covid.


Iceland’s managing director, Richard Walker, told BBC 4′s Today programme the supermarket was having to hire 2,000 temporary workers to prepare for “the exponential rise in pinging”. Some Iceland stores have even had temporarily close amid staff shortages. Meanwhile, M&S has reduced opening hours in some of its stores to deal with shortages.

“The dramatic pictures that you might have seen in the media are isolated incidents and not widespread,” Walker reassured customers.

“But the people who should be panicking are the Government, and I believe that, you know, the sooner they clear up this mess, and get retail workers and HGV drivers on to the key worker list, the better.”

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged ministers to “act fast” to allow fully-vaccinated workers, or those who test negative, to be exempt from isolation after a “ping”.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed that a “very narrow” list of sectors whose workers will be exempt from isolation rules will be published on Thursday afternoon. He would not confirm if this list will include the food sector, but urged the public not to panic buy.

While panic-buying is an understandable reaction to an uncertain situation, it could have a profound impact on supply chains – and people’s lives. HuffPost UK previously spoke to therapists about how to resist the urge to panic buy and the message was clear: do things that reduce your own anxiety.

Avoid scaremongering posts on social media and surround yourself with positive people. And remember, if your local supermarket is out of a certain item, you can always try independent corner shops which are often well-stocked with goods, as well as local farms, some of which will deliver to your door.