MSE News

Tesco limits sales of toilet roll, eggs, rice and soap

Tesco has re-introduced restrictions on grocery sales, allowing shoppers to buy only three packs of certain items and just a single pack of toilet roll. However the supermarket and its rivals insist there are currently no product shortages and are urging customers to shop normally.

Early in the pandemic many supermarkets limited the number of essential items each customer could buy, with sales of products such as pasta and toilet roll rationed.

Tesco re-introduced some of these limits in September, and this week it extended these restrictions further - all the below restrictions apply in-store and online: 

  • You can now only buy one pack of toilet roll. Tesco has had limits on the amount of toilet roll each customer can buy on and off since April. Until earlier this week customers were limited to three packs, while a one-pack limit was last in force in November.

  • You can now only buy up to three packs of each of the following - eggs, rice, soap and handwash. These are new restrictions brought in this week.

  • Existing limits remain on flour, dried pasta, baby wipes and anti-bacterial wipes. Each customer can buy up to three of each of these products - and this has been the case for several months. 

The new restrictions come amid ongoing concern about supermarket supply chains, after freight transport was disrupted when France closed its borders with the UK earlier this week. Sainsbury's warned on Monday that if freight transport did not resume, shoppers could face shortages of salad leaves, cauliflowers, broccoli and citrus fruit - though France has now reopened its border for some. 

However it's important to stress that Tesco says its new limits are pre-emptive measures to ensure smooth demand, not a sign that there are any product shortages or that people have been panic-buying. It says shoppers should carry on buying as they normally would, within the limits. See our Supermarket Shopping Tips guide for help on how to cut your food bill.

What are other supermarkets doing?

The general message from all the main supermarkets is that they are well-stocked and that customers should shop as normal and buy only what they need. 

Sainsbury's and Aldi have told us they have good availablilty and don't have any purchase restrictions in place at the moment - Co-op also said it has good availability and hasn't introduced any extra limits recently, though we're checking if any other limits were already in place. We've also asked other supermarkets such as Asda and Morrisons what their policies are and will update this story when we hear back.

What does Tesco say?

A Tesco spokesperson said: "We have plenty of food for Christmas available in stores and would encourage all customers to shop as normal. We’ve been building our stockholding of key products ahead of the Christmas peak and are working closely with our hauliers and suppliers to continue the supply of goods into our stores.

"If the current disruption continues then there may be reduced supply on a few fresh items, such as lettuce, cauliflower and citrus fruit later this week, but we don’t expect any problems with availability on these lines today. We’re doing everything we can to limit the impact for our customers."

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