Britain's Asda urges lockdown shoppers not to stockpile

© Reuters. A general view shows the UK supermarket Asda, as the store launches a new sustainability strategy, in Leeds

LONDON (Reuters) – British supermarket group Asda on Wednesday urged its customers to shop considerately and not buy more than they normally would after new COVID-19 lockdowns were introduced across the United Kingdom to stem the spread of the virus.

Under the new rules in England, schools are closed to most pupils, people should work from home if possible, and all hospitality and non-essential shops are closed. Semi-autonomous executives in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have imposed similar measures.

With the hospitality sector shut, there is pressure on supermarkets to meet demand. December trade hit record levels.

Asda, Britain’s third largest supermarket group after market leader Tesco (LON:) and Sainsbury’s, said it had strong product availability across its stores and depots and its staff were working around the clock to keep shelves stocked.

“Asda is also asking customers to play their part by continuing to shop considerately and not buy more than they normally would,” it said.

The group is also stepping up its digital capacity to help more customers shop online during the crisis.

Asda has increased its grocery home shopping capacity by 90% since last March to 850,000 weekly slots and expects this to rise to 900,000 slots per week by the start of April.

It is also doubling the size of its partnership with Uber (NYSE:) Eats with 200 stores providing customers with a 30-minute delivery service on 350 Asda-branded products from February.

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Asda is currently owned by U.S. giant Walmart (NYSE:). However, in October the Issa brothers and private equity group TDR Capital agreed to buy a majority holding in Asda in a deal giving it an enterprise value of $8.8 billion.

The deal, under which Walmart will keep a minority stake, requires regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the first half of 2021.

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