As the challenges of food shopping have increased amid the uncertainty around Covid-19, several UK supermarket chains have prioritised opening at certain times of the day for vulnerable and older people.
On the Sight Advice FAQ website, a resource for blind and partially sighted people supported by RNIB, there is a range of useful information on a variety of subjects including how to arrange shopping deliveries and how to get essential food supplies if you are struggling financially. We have also put together information we've found online about what different supermarkets are doing to help disabled customers.
Here you can find key information and links to the announcements from some of the key supermarket chains:
If you are blind or partially sighted and are needing to go to a local supermarket for your essential shopping, please be aware that stores across the country and putting measures in place to protect us all. So, it's important that you are aware that you may find changes to the environment you are usually used to. These measures could include the following:
These measures will differ from store to store and may change over time.
If you have a disability that may not be immediately obvious but would appreciate support from staff when you're doing your shopping, you may be interested to know there is a lanyard which can signal this. The sunflower lanyard is currently recognised in Tesco, Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury's. Find out more about the lanyard and how you can get one.
Asda has placed limits on the amount of certain products individual shoppers can buy.
All of its stores have a dedicated shopping hour for those at higher risk and the people who care for them.
It has set aside the first hour of trading on Mondays and Thursdays for older and vulnerable customers.
Morrisons is expanding its home delivery service and introducing new ways of delivering groceries and more slots for customers, which will also help vulnerable people and those affected by the virus.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all of the chain’s supermarkets will dedicate the hour of 8am - 9am to serving older, disabled and vulnerable customers, as well as NHS and Social Care workers. Sainsbury's says its existing online customers who are over 70 years of age, vulnerable, or who have a disability, will get priority access to online home delivery slots and access to Click And Collect services.
It says it has proactively contacted 270,000 customers who the supermarket chain identified as elderly or vulnerable.
Sainsbury's also says this week it will receive the Government database, which tells it which people in England the Government considers to be most vulnerable, to enable it to offer those already registered with Sainsbury's a delivery slot.
It encourages people who this applies to register as vulnerable to coronavirus on the Government's web site as well as register with the supermarket.
Tesco says it is prioritising older people and the most vulnerable between 9 - 10 am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, except for its Express outlets. It says, having introduced floor markings to help shoppers distance themselves from each other, that its staff and "colleagues are always on hand to provide support to any customers who need help".
First hour of store opening to be dedicated to older and vulnerable people and it is exploring ways to offer its services remotely.
RNIB, jointly with other sight loss sector charities Guide Dogs, Thomas Pocklington Trust and Visionary, have reached out to leading supermarkets to ensure people with sight loss are considered through this difficult time.