Lancashire's sanitiser shortage as coronavirus increases demand

Supplies of hand sanitiser are sparse and being rationed across Lancashire - as fears over the coronavirus increase demand.

The NHS says that washing your hands is a key part of preventing the spread of viruses, but hand sanitiser gel can be used when soap and water are not available.

Empty shelves in Lancashire shops

Empty shelves in Lancashire shops

Nationally, Boots and LloydsPharmacy both said they are restricting the products - which can help to prevent the spread of the virus when hand-washing is not possible - to two per person.
The decision comes as some hand sanitisers are being sold online at inflated prices.

In Preston yesterday, the Lancashire Post found that shelves of the product were empty in Asda, Lidl and Farm Foods, with online shops Ocado and Waitrose showing very limited stock.

Lancashire-based supermarket Booths said it was seeing an increase in demand for some products like cleaning products and hand sanitisers.

A spokesman for Booths said: “Booths are working closely with our suppliers to ensure that we have stock available. While we are not putting limits on purchases at this time, we would encourage customers to only buy what they need.

“It’s business as usual at Booths, we are taking practical and pragmatic steps to prepare for increased demand as well as emphasising existing exemplary hygiene practices throughout the business and our supply chains.”

Andrew Opie from the British Retail Consortium, which represents the major supermarkets, said: “Disruption to supply chains has been limited, and the availability of products remains good. Retailers are working closely with their suppliers and monitoring consumer behaviour to anticipate changes in future demand.”

He said hand sanitiser sales have risen because people are taking “sensible precautions to reduce the spread of coronavirus”, which has infected more than 50 people in the UK, and said shops are “also taking the necessary steps to meet the rise in demand for certain hygiene products”.

Pharmacies in the area are also under pressure due to increased demand.

Broadway Pharmacy in Fulwood said it was rationing the sanitiser to one product per customer.

A spokesman said: “We have got some, but not a lot. There really is a big demand, it’s nearly every other customer who is buying it.

“There is a lack of supply, so we’re limiting it to one per customer.”

A spokesman for Facer Pharmacy in Longton said they were “struggling” to get hold of new supplies.

They said: “We’re not rationing it, but we’ve only got a few left and we’re struggling to get hold of any more.

“There has definately been an increase in demand.”