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The virus panic – and the supermarket queues – subside

Blog | By Harry Mount | Apr 10, 2020

The Sainsbury's near the Oldie office (Credit: Harry Mount)

Pictured is the queueing area today outside a Sainsbury's just off Oxford Street, near the Oldie office. And, as you can see, it's empty.

That's not the same throughout London. As I bike through the city to work, a weird thing happens – the supermarkets further away from the centre of town have longer queues; the ones closer in, like this one, have shorter ones or no queues at all.

It's all a function of where people live, of course. Here in Fitzrovia, there are many fewer residents, and more office blocks, than near my flat in Kentish Town.

Still, though, there's a growing awareness that the shops can maintain their supply lines; that there's no need to panic-buy. And, also, if you have panic-bought, you now have your cupboards full. I haven't panic-bought – but I have mildly-worried-bought. And, as a result, for the first time in 20 years in my flat, there are tins of tunafish squeezed above the books in my bookshelf. It would have been crazy to buy more tuna today in this Sainsbury's.

There are still shortages: there's no soap in this shop, for example. But milk, which was in short supply here a few days ago, is now plentiful. People worry more about being clean than having something to pour on their cornflakes.