Sales of hand sanitiser in supermarkets more than tripled last month as worried customers flocked to protect themselves from coronavirus.
Supermarkets have placed restrictions on items including pasta, anti-bacterial wipes and hand soap in a bid to prevent shoppers from stockpiling amid coronavirus fears.
Shelves across the country have been emptied of goods, including toilet paper, after Public Health England urged members of the public to “plan ahead” for if they had to self-isolate for a couple of weeks.
Sales of hand sanitiser soared by 255% during February, according to new data from Kantar Worldpanel.
Meanwhile, liquid soap sales increased 7% and household cleaning products rose 10%.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “Given the media focus around the outbreak of Covid-19 in February, it’s unsurprising to see shoppers prudently protecting themselves from illness.”
Sales of face masks have also soared. However, Public Health England has said that for the general public, facemasks are not considered to be effective to protect them from becoming infected.
But when worn by those who may already be infected with the virus, masks can help reduce the spread.
PHE added specialist masks are included in protective equipment for appropriately-trained health professionals dealing with high-risk individuals or cases.
“Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings, such as hospitals,” said Dr Jake Dunning, PHE’s head of emerging infections and zoonoses.
“However, there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings.”
The coronavirus outbreak has led pharmacy chains to limit the sale of hand sanitiser amid concerns products could be sold for inflated prices online.
A spokeswoman for Boots, the UK’s largest chemist chain, said it had seen an increase in the sale of hand sanitisers, but it still had stock available in its warehouses for online sale and in stores.
She also confirmed that there is currently a limit of two hand sanitisers per customer to ensure as many people as possible have access to the products.
A source told the PA news agency that Boots is concerned some of its products could be re-sold online.
The company has seen protective products of the kind it sells, for example face masks, appear on websites such as Amazon at prices far greater than those retailed by Boots.
A spokesman for LloydsPharmacy, which runs over 1,500 UK pharmacies, said it too was limiting the sale of hand gel products to two per person both online and in store.
“We know that having access to products like hand gels is extremely important to our customers, so we are doing everything we can to ensure availability, despite increasing demand and supply challenges,” he said.
Are you concerned about Coronavirus? Have you started stockpiling hand sanitiser, soap and face masks as a precaution? Share your views in the comments below