British supermarket chain sets hour aside for elderly customers

Frozen-food specialists Iceland are allowing branch managers to open an hour early for elderly customers to shop away from the crowds.

An Iceland supermarket is seen in the United Kingdom. (photo credit: GEORGE MORINA/PEXELS)
An Iceland supermarket is seen in the United Kingdom.
(photo credit: GEORGE MORINA/PEXELS)
A British supermarket chain has started to open one hour earlier to allow elderly customers a quiet period away from the general population, in light of coronavirus restrictions.
The Iceland supermarket chain has announced that it is allowing individual branch managers the option to meet the needs of their local population, although the earlier hour is not company policy across all stores.
Casey Abbott, a branch manager with Food Warehouse, a subsidiary of Iceland, took the decision to open his branch an hour earlier to give the elderly population time and space to shop.
"As the store manager for THE FOOD WAREHOUSE at Westwood Cross. I’ve agreed to open the doors at 7am on Tuesday 17th March," he wrote on Facebook.
"This is one hour earlier than normal. This is ONLY for OAP’s [old aged pensioners] and it will be at my discretion for them to come in. This will give them the chance to shop peacefully for one hour!"
Similarly, Iceland's Kennedy Centre store in West Belfast will open an hour earlier from Wednesday March 18, between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. daily.
"We just want to make sure the experience is as stress-free as possible," store manager Danny Burke told the BBC.
He explained that the idea had come from posts on social media, and said that the store was asking customers to "respect the dedicated hour," although no formal checks on shoppers' ages will be made.
The move comes as supermarkets have tried to stop customers stockpiling in light of the coronavirus outbreak, with many stores limiting the number of certain products customers can purchase at a time.
Aldi has put in place a limit of four of each item, while Tescos has said that customers will not be able to purchase more than five of certain items, such as antibacterial gel or long-life milk.
Nationwide Bank was also among businesses offering dedicated hours set aside for those at the highest risk from the virus. From March 18, 100 of its branches across Britain will be open between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., Monday to Friday, to give more vulnerable people a chance to do their banking away from crowds.
As elderly people are more susceptible to Covid-19, they have been advised to avoid the population at large to reduce their potential exposure to the virus.
As demand has increased at supermarkets nationwide, retailers have moved to reassure customers that there is enough supply in the system.
Iceland store manager Danny Burke said: "There's plenty of food in the system. The supply chain is robust, and there is enough to go around if people buy sensible amounts."
He added: "I haven't stockpiled toilet roll or hoards of tinned food just yet."