We visit Tesco and Grimsby Asda to see if ‘pingdemic’ disruption is leaving shelves bare

Some empty shelves were discovered as the NHS Track and Trace’s Pingdemic disruption continued.

The government’s track-and-trace app notifies people if they need to self-isolate if they have been in close contact with someone with coronavirus.

The problem is known as “pingdemic” due to the impact on the workforce from the need to isolate and has started to affect supermarket shelves.

The latest figures show that in the week leading up to July 7th, more than 500,000 people in the UK were pinged by the app.

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GrimsbyLive visited Tesco stores in Grimsby and Cleethorpes and found that the store was very busy with less than expected selection of certain products on the shelves.

Staff stacked the shelves as fast as they could to keep up with demand from buyers.

However, there were plenty of trolley trucks on display in the store as the staff did their best to keep the shelves at Grimsby’s Tesco store as full as possible.

GrimsbyLive also went to the Asda store in Grimsby to see if the Pingdemic was taking its toll there. .

Employees stacked lots of shelves to keep pace with customer demand for goods, with certain stocks running out – eggs and toilet paper in particular.

The staff was stacking empty shelves as quickly as possible to meet demand as the store was very busy.

But the items started to sell out like eggs at 11am.

The head of the British Retail Consortium said large supermarkets are already trying to alleviate the staffing shortage caused by people contacted by the NHS Test and Trace app.

Staff stacked the shelves as fast as they could to keep up with demand from buyers.

Helen Dickinson told BBC Breakfast this morning, “Everyone I speak to sees absenteeism that is higher than they would normally expect.

“They are already taking mitigation measures, including shift changes, reduced working hours and, in some cases, the need to close stores.”

Ms. Dickinson warned consumers about having less choice in supermarkets, waiting longer for deliveries, or reducing their local stores’ opening hours until the rules change on August 16.

“I think the most important thing for the government is to recognize that the current situation is unsustainable,” she said.

Ms. Dickinson suggested that self-isolation rules for people working in grocery supply chains could be changed as staff absenteeism increased.

Items like toilet paper were running short in Grimsby’s Asda store

Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, believes that employees and suppliers should be allowed to work in the store even if they receive a 10 day self-isolation warning.

He said: “The ongoing ‘pingdemy’ is putting increasing pressure on retailers’ ability to meet opening hours and keep shelves in stock.

“The government must act quickly. Retail workers and suppliers who have played an important role during this pandemic should be allowed to work, provided they are double-vaccinated or have a negative Covid test, to ensure that the public’s ability to obtain food and other goods is not compromised .

“As cases soar in the community, the number of healthy retail workers who need to self-isolate is growing rapidly, disrupting retail operations.”

However, a Tesco spokesperson believes “pingdemic” is not the only factor driving the rise in staff and food shortages.

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“Pingdemic” causes temporary low availability of products, says Tesco

They said, “In the background we have a lot of groceries, with deliveries arriving at our stores and distribution centers across the UK on a daily basis, and general availability remains good.”

“Although there is enough food for everyone, we experience sporadic disruptions due to the industry-wide shortage of truck drivers and an increase in colleagues who are self-isolating as a precaution.

“In addition to increased demand, this leads to temporary low availability of a small number of products, but we are actively managing this and our colleagues are working hard to fill the shelves again.”

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