Further Update from Sainsbury’s Chief Executive Mike Coupe 26/03/2020
We are continuing to work around the clock to feed the nation in these challenging times.
Keeping you and our colleagues safe
Starting today, we will limit the number of people allowed in our stores and at our ATMs at any one time. We are putting queuing systems in place outside stores and will ask everyone to please queue at a safe distance of 2 metres apart. Since we put limits on the number of items people could buy, food and other essential items are on shelves for longer each day so please arrive throughout the day to avoid long queues forming in the morning. We will be reminding people in stores to keep a safe distance from other customers and from our colleagues. Customers buying petrol will be asked to pay at the pump where they can.
We are reducing the number of checkouts we open in supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol filling stations to help our colleagues and customers keep a safe distance from each other. We are also introducing safety screens at every manned checkout to help keep our colleagues safe when serving customers. We are regularly sanitising all customer areas of our stores including chip and pin machines, baskets and trolleys.
Please pay by card at the till if you can. If you are unable to pay by card and want to pay by cash, please use our self scan tills which will stay open for cash payments. Many customers are now using our SmartShop app on their own devices when shopping in our stores. This means you can scan your own shopping as you go round the store, put food and other essential items straight into your own bags and pay for your groceries at a special till before leaving. Which means less interaction with other customers and colleagues and less time queuing to pay.
Elderly and vulnerable customers
Many of you have written to me to tell me you are elderly or vulnerable and are struggling to book online delivery slots. We are doing our absolute best to offer online delivery slots to elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers. These customers have priority over all slots. Our customer Careline has been inundated with requests from elderly and vulnerable customers – we have had one year’s worth of contacts in two weeks.
We have proactively contacted 270,000 customers who had already given us information that meant we could identify them as being in these groups. Our customer Careline is working at full capacity to help other customers within these groups and we are able to give an additional 8,000 customers a day access to delivery slots over the phone. We have already booked in slots for 115,000 elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers this week and this number is growing every day.
We will receive the government database this week which tells us which people in England the government considers to be most vulnerable. Where these people are already registered with us, we will start to write to them next week to offer them a delivery slot. We are also working hard to secure details for vulnerable people living in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
I apologise to our regular online customers, who I know are feeling very frustrated at not being able to book slots. Please bear with us and I hope you can understand why we feel the need to prioritise elderly and vulnerable customers at the moment.
Communities working together
And this brings me onto my final request. We really are doing our best to manage a very difficult situation. Demand for online grocery delivery is higher now than it has ever been. We are working hard to increase our online capacity and we are adding more slots in every day. But it is not possible for us to create enough slots to meet the current level of demand.
We are seeing communities come together to work on this issue. We know that many people who are able to come into a store to shop are also shopping for others who can’t access food online or get to a shop. We want to encourage and support this. If everyone who shops in store also shops for a person who is less able, it will go a long way towards getting food to everyone who needs it.
Our teams are also working with national and local government and a range of charities to see how we can best help food banks and other community groups. I’ll update you soon on what we are doing in this area.
Lastly – thank you for all the support that you are giving our colleagues. As we do everything we can to feed the nation, your kind comments make a huge difference.
Many of you have written to me in the past 24 hours to tell me that you like the idea of priority shopping for NHS workers and for elderly and disabled customers, but that these should be at different times.
We have therefore decided to allow NHS and social care workers to shop in our supermarkets for half an hour before they open each day. So anyone with NHS ID will be able to shop from 07.30-08.00 every day from Monday to Saturday. We’re delighted to be able to offer priority shopping to all the hard-working NHS staff across the country who are working so hard to keep us all safe and well.
In addition to this, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all our supermarkets will dedicate 08.00-09.00 to serving elderly customers, disabled customers and carers.
Many of you have also asked me about priority online delivery slots for elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers.
We have been able to identify a number of customers as elderly and vulnerable based on the information they have given us previously. These details would include date of birth and if you have ever used our vulnerable customer helpline. For all of these customers, we will email you today (Sunday) with information on when slots will become available.
If you do not receive an email and you consider yourself to be vulnerable, please visit our Groceries Online website on Monday for information on how to contact us. We are also working as quickly as possible on an option for people to register themselves as disabled and vulnerable on their online shopping accounts.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to get in touch with me and share your feedback – it’s because of you that we are making these changes and we will continue to listen, learn and adapt during this uncertain time.