An update on our response to COVID-19: a message to customers from Dave Lewis, Tesco CEO

We wrote to you last week setting out the measures we are taking to provide more of the food that people need, in a safe and clean environment.

We wrote to you last week setting out the measures we are taking to provide more of the food that people need, in a safe and clean environment.

Our colleagues have risen brilliantly to the challenges of recent days, but this challenge is unprecedented and inevitably, despite our hard work and best intentions, not everything has or will go exactly to plan. But we’ll take learnings, we’ll be informed by the latest guidance from the Government, and we’ll keep going.

Importantly, we need your help to do this.

With that in mind, following the Prime Minister’s recent announcement, we wanted to write and update you on the measures we continue to take, and what new things you will begin to see in our stores in the next few days.            

 Food for all

  • To ensure more people have access to everyday essentials, we have introduced a store-wide restriction of 3 items per customer on every product line and removed multi-buy promotions.
  • In product areas where demand is particularly high, we have simplified our range to get more of the most popular products on shelves.
  • We have introduced a special hour in stores for NHS workers as a thank you for all they are doing. On Sundays, they can browse our large stores and select their shopping an hour before the checkouts open. All we ask is, if you’re an NHS worker, that you bring a form of ID to store, such as an NHS staff card. We have listened to feedback and are looking at how we can extend this to include extra days from next week.
  • To ensure our more vulnerable and elderly customers can shop for what they need in our large stores, we have prioritised one hour every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning between 9-10am.
  • We know that it’s difficult right now to get a delivery slot for online shopping. We are at full capacity for the next few weeks and we ask those who are able to safely come to stores to do so, instead of shopping online, so that we can start to free up more slots for the more vulnerable.
  • We are looking at every opportunity to increase the number of slots available. As we increase our capacity, we will also set aside more of these slots for our most vulnerable customers.
  • We have more stock coming into stores every day, with up to double the usual amounts of key essentials arriving – but we need everyone’s help: please buy only what you need, so that there is enough for everyone.

Safety for everyone

To ensure we are doing everything possible to reduce the risk of infection for our customers and colleagues, we will begin to introduce new social distancing measures in stores in the coming days.

  • Floor markings in our car parks will help you to maintain safe distances when queuing.
  • Where necessary, we will limit the flow of people coming into our stores to ensure they don’t get too congested.
  • Hand sanitisers are being placed around our stores for customers and colleagues to use, as well as extra cleaning products to wipe down your trolley or basket.
  • In some stores, we will introduce directional floor markings and new signage, to create a safe flow around the store.
  • New floor markings will help you to keep a safe distance from others while waiting to pay.
  • We are installing protective screens at our checkouts.
  • Where possible, we will create separate entrances and exits to our stores, so that it’s easier to keep a safe distance from other shoppers.

Supporting our colleagues

  • We are fully supporting our team of more than 300,000 Tesco colleagues, many of whom will be affected by this situation personally or will need to care for their own loved ones. The countless messages of gratitude I’ve received are testament to the incredible job they are doing, at a time when our stores have never been busier. Your small gestures and kind words really do go a long way.
  • We have almost 3,000 colleagues over the age of 70 and we are fully supporting them, as well as our vulnerable and pregnant colleagues, with 12 weeks’ fully paid absence.
  • Colleagues who are in isolation are receiving full pay from their first day of absence, so that nobody finds themselves in a situation where they have to work when unwell.
  • To help support our team, we are recruiting an additional 20,000 temporary colleagues. We’ve already appointed 12,500 new colleagues, but we will need more. We are also bringing in 8,000 new colleagues in driving roles, and we are training them as fast as we can.

It’s a challenging time for the whole country, but we are committed to playing our part in feeding the nation and to keeping everyone safe. We also need your help to change the way you shop with us, so here are a few simple requests to help us serve you better:

  • Please check your store’s opening hours in advance.
  • Before you leave home, please bring enough bags for your shop. If it’s raining, don’t forget an umbrella too, in case you need to queue outside the store.
  • Try to shop with no more than one other person, which will help to reduce the number of people in-store at any one time.
  • Please use our cleaning stations to wipe your trolley, basket, or Scan as you Shop handset.
  • If possible, use card or contactless payments.
  • Please avoid shopping during our dedicated times for vulnerable and elderly people, and NHS workers, and be kind to our colleagues as they’re working hard to serve you; we’re all in this together.

We want to thank our suppliers, our colleagues – and especially you, our customers – for understanding and helping. 

We know these are some big changes, and we will all need to do our very best to adjust. We will continue to update you as things change.    


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