Some Iceland stores will dedicate their first two hours of opening on Wednesday to elderly and vulnerable shoppers amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In recent days supermarkets have been left bare as shoppers cleared the shelves of items such as toilet roll, paracetamol, pasta, tinned goods and hand wash.
In a joint letter on Sunday, UK retailers including Iceland, Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl asked customers to be “considerate” when shopping so that others are not left without much-needed items.
With those over the age of 70 being asked to retreat from social contact, Iceland has announced plans to help older and vulnerable shoppers.
On Monday, the frozen food company stated: “The impact of Covid-19 continues to disrupt routines for many people and businesses, and there is widespread concern about access to food, especially for vulnerable people and the elderly.
“With many of our Iceland stores located at the heart of communities across the UK, we are encouraging our store managers to dedicate the first two hours of opening on Wednesday morning to the elderly (those of state pension age) and vulnerable people in their community, such as those with disabilities.
“We are giving them the flexibility to offer this wherever possible, and arrangements will be publicised in the stores that decide to take this action.”
Iceland’s West Belfast store will open an hour early at 8am for older shoppers.
The company added: “We commend the action taken by our colleagues in the West Belfast store who have already dedicated an hour of early morning opening for the elderly.
“We are focused on being able to feed the nation and to support the most in need.”
Building society Nationwide is also trialling new branch opening times to help the elderly, vulnerable, and those with underlying health conditions.
From Wednesday, more than 100 branches across the UK will open from 8am instead of the usual 9am.
Scottish branches taking part include Aberdeen, Ayr, Dumfries, Dunfermline, East Kilbride, Edinburgh, Galashiels, Glasgow and Inverness.
The new opening hours will run from Mondays to Fridays.
The arrangement aims to enable groups of people at highest risk from coronavirus to go about their day-to-day transactions with greater confidence and safety, Nationwide said.
If successful and if there is shown to be a need, Nationwide will consider extending the trial across the society’s 650-branch network.