March 19, 2020 / 10:33 AM / in 11 days

Ahead of expected London shutdown, shoppers queue in the rain

FILE PHOTO: People queue outside of a supermarket before it opens, as the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world, in London, Britain, March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - British shoppers were queuing around the block early on Thursday morning to buy basic goods such as bottled water and tinned goods ahead of an expected toughening of measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Reuters reporters saw more than 100 people queuing in the rain before the 7 opening of a large Sainsbury’s store in Clapham Common, south of the river Thames, while a few miles away in Vauxhall queues snaked around another Sainsbury’s store.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has joined the country’s biggest supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons in urging shoppers not to stockpile, but the pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

Such is the demand for basic ambient goods that Ocado, a pioneer in online shopping, has had to stop new customers from signing up after seeing a several hundred percentage increase in web traffic.

Most supermarkets are still taking online orders but they will not be delivered for up to three weeks.

Writing by Kate Holton; additional reporting by Dylan Martinez and Stephen Grey; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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