Booker cash and carries are to close early due to stock shortages related to the coronavirus outbreak.

The wholesaler’s retailer customers received emails from the company on 18 March stating all branches would operate on reduced opening hours. Others had received text messages from Booker advising them to check the wholesaler’s website for updated opening hours. The message said: “Please be aware, we have made some changes to the trading hours at your local Booker/Makro branch.”

Nisa Stoneleigh postponed due to coronavirus

Staff at Booker’s Sheffield and Ardwick branches confirmed to betterRetailing they would be closing at 4pm due to stock shortages as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. However, they were unable to say whether other branches across the UK had the same reduced opening hours.

An employee at one of the affected branches said: “We are closing early and it’s to give us more time to replenish our stock. I’m not sure when the opening hours will return to normal.”

Anita Nye, of Premier Eldred Drive Stores in Orpington, Kent, said: “Everyone is in the same position and it is difficult. Normally we go to the cash and carry in Sidcup in the morning, but it [stock levels] have been getting worse day by day. They’ve been totally empty.

“One of our orders had £9,000 worth of stock, but we received four A4 pages of out of stock products.”

Another retailer, who asked not to be named, added: “It’s a good thing. The reason I’ve not gone to cash and carry yet is because I don’t want to waste a journey and see empty shelves. At the end of the day, it’s ensuring retailers get the stock they need. I’ll probably go to the cash and carry at some point, but I want to have the confidence there’ll be stock when I do.”

Some of Tesco’s 24 hour branches have also been reported to closing at 10pm as a measure to prevent panic bulk buying and to also give staff more time to fill shelves.

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