I am just back from a trip to my nearest large town, Dereham. This market town is the fifth largest in Norfolk, with a poulation of around 14,000. I was heading for the big Tesco Supermarket on the outskirts, to get a weekly shop. With most other town shops closed, the place felt deserted. School closures meant that the late afternoon school run traffic was nonexistent, and with the exception of the few town centre shops selling food, every other shop was closed up, and in some cases, shuttered.
Compared to a normal Monday afternoon, it felt like driving around in a ghost town.
Once at the supermarket, new restrictions are in place. A large section of the car park is closed off by barriers, enforcing a strict one-way queueing system to get into the shop. One customer only at a time, one trolley, and one total transaction. Inside, it feels strange. Not only were there few customers, perhaps a quarter of what I would usually see at this time, but the aisles were closed off at each end, enforcing another one-way system for shoppers.
Most things were available, with the exception of dried pasta. (I buy fresh anyway, and they had that) There was only one type of eggs available, an expensive blue-shell variety. Medicines like Paracetamol and Antihistamine were not in stock, but there was plenty of bread, meat, vegetables, and fresh fruit. There were also toilet rolls, and paper kitchen towels, as well as anti-bacterial sprays, and most cleaning products.
Sadly, I sensed an element of profiteering in the prices. Whether the supermarkets are having to pay more to secure the goods, or they are trying to make up for the lack of sales now panic buying has slowed, I don’t know. But there were almost no ‘special offers’, and a four pack of toilet rolls, costing £2 only two weeks ago was now £3. That’s a huge percentage increase, in a product people are still trying to buy. Fortunately, I didn’t need any, and they were restricted to one pack per customer.
On the way home, during what passes for the ‘rush hour’ around here, there was less traffic than early on a Sunday morning.
Perhaps people are finally ‘getting it’? I hope so.