The pressures on stock supply facing shops during the coronavirus pandemic would be eased if people only buy what they need, Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary has said.
Fergus Ewing urged the public to shop considerately and not to stockpile or panic buy goods.
Social distancing measures are in place across the country, home working has been encouraged, schools are closed and exams have been cancelled, and financial support has been introduced by the Scottish Government to help communities and businesses cope.
Despite fears over a shortage in supplies, Mr Ewing said he has been in contact with retailers who have dismissed the concerns.
He said: “Ensuring that we all have access to food and other essentials is key to our safety and wellbeing in these unprecedented times.
“I want to thank everyone working to produce food, distribute it and sell it in shops and supermarkets for all their efforts to keep products on the shelves.
“For the past week I have been in close contact with Scotland’s national retailers, who confirmed that they have sufficient stocks to provide enough food and other essentials for everyone.
“The issue is that, currently, demand is so high that products cannot be replenished on shelves in time, which is creating a perception of food shortages.
“This is a false picture though, and pressure on the supply could be greatly eased if shoppers buy just what they need rather than stockpiling. So I am calling on consumers to please shop considerately.”
Mr Ewing’s remarks came nearly three weeks after Scotland’s first case of Covid-19 was confirmed on March 1.
As of Friday, there have been 322 positive tests for the virus and six deaths linked to it.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said Scots could face “even stricter and more difficult” measures to help curb the spread.
She warned against young people going out over the weekend while also reiterating the calls against stockpiling.
Mr Ewing added: “In particular I would ask people to think about the needs and interests of our front-line and key workers who cannot get to the shops as often as the rest of us and who are shopping at unsocial hours.
“Please also consider helping those who can’t get to the shops themselves, especially elderly and vulnerable neighbours, family and friends who are being asked to restrict their social contact.
“And consider supporting local businesses and smaller retailers in the community by giving them your custom as well.
“I also want to assure consumers that the Scottish Government is continually working with the food and drink industry and liaising closely with local government and other governments across the UK to ensure that fresh food and supplies remain available across all of Scotland.
“We have already acted to enable local authorities to relax restrictions on delivery hours, delivery driver work patterns, and shop opening times to help supermarkets and shops remain stocked and allow shoppers more opportunity to access supplies out of normal business hours.
“We remain committed to doing all we can to keep the shelves stocked – the public has a pivotal role to play in helping us do that.”