Mary K Foy, MP for the City of Durham
Mary K Foy, MP for the City of Durham

As you will know, Mary recently wrote to the major supermarkets serving Durham to ask for more support for vulnerable and elderly residents. She has received responses from all of the companies she contacted, and these are shared below:


Dear Ms Foy

Thank you for your letter regarding vulnerable constituents seeking home deliveries. I wanted to provide you with an update.

Firstly, the Government is helping retailers identify people who are extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, who should then be prioritised for home delivery slots. If you have any constituents wanting to register for this, I would encourage them to use the following website:

Secondly, to give you an update on Sainsbury’s online operations:

Over the past two weeks we have booked over 320,000 slots for vulnerable and elderly customers and have also expanded our capacity so we can deliver 472,000 orders a week. We have also increased Click and Collect slots from 41,000 to almost 100,000 per week. Our customer Careline is working at full capacity to help other customers within these groups and we are currently able to give an additional 8,000 customers a day access to delivery slots over the phone.

However, I must advise you that, though we are working hard to increase our online capacity and we are adding more slots in every day, it is simply not possible for us to create enough slots to meet the current level of demand. It is important to acknowledge that the online grocery sector accounts for less than 10 per cent of total grocery sales and the online supermarkets simply do not have enough capacity to meet this surge in demand for home deliveries by themselves.

I hope this update helps



Dear Mary,

Thank you for your attached letter to Roger Burnley, which he has asked me to respond to on his behalf.


At the moment, we are focusing on how to prioritise those on the government’s ‘extremely vulnerable’ list. We are in the process of contacting those who are existing customers to offer them a priority pass, giving them the first opportunity to book a delivery slot with us. We will then be working to help customers who we have data for but would not ordinarily shop with Asda.


Prior to the current situation, online shopping made up only a small proportion of our total sales, so there are limitations – such as website capacity and the number of vans and drivers we have – to how far and how quickly we can expand our service. That said, we are working flat out to process as many grocery home shopping order as we can every day, and have opened an extra 300,000 slots in the last two weeks. This means we are now making 700,000 deliveries each week.


That said, we continue to ask customers, where possible, if they are able to go to one of our shops to do so. As demand has dropped in our stores over the last week, we have lifted the three-item limit on nearly all of our products. We are confident that if a customer shops in our store later in the day, they should be able to do a full shop. We have also introduced extensive social distancing measures to help our customers feel safe while they are in store.


However, we do acknowledge there are people who do not want to visit our stores due to the current outbreak. To help those who are vulnerable and those who are self-isolating and unable to go into store, we have launched a dedicated volunteer shopping card. Customers can buy these shopping cards online, top up and give it to a family member, friend or NHS volunteer to pay for their shopping. These shopping cards can be bought at


I hope this is useful.



Dear Ms Foy


Thanks for your letter to Dave Lewis. Dave has asked me to reply on his behalf.

We’re sorry to hear about the challenges that a number of your constituents have had in securing home delivery slots. We know it’s still difficult to get an online delivery slot due to high demand, but we’re looking at every opportunity to increase the number of slots available and to help support those most in need. We have increased our online delivery slots by 145,000 in the last two weeks. This is an increase of 20%, with thousands more becoming available every day. We are also asking those customers who are able to safely come to stores to do so, to free up more slots for the more vulnerable.

If any of your constituents are considered extremely vulnerable by the Government then we may be helping them directly to access priority online delivery slots. Last Thursday, we received an initial list of 110,000 clinically vulnerable and isolated people from the Government. From this list, we have been able to match 75,000 existing customers and we’ve already let them know we’re making home delivery slots immediately available to them. We’ll continue to work through this list, and as we receive more data from Government, we’ll make even more slots available. The Government’s list is based on those deemed extremely vulnerable, who will likely have received letters from the NHS, and have registered with the Government for support. This has been provided to the supermarkets as part of a joint, industry-wide effort to prioritise home delivery slots for the most vulnerable customers.

For those elderly or vulnerable customers that feel able to shop in store, we are holding priority shopping hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning from 9am to support these customers. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays we are holding a priority hour for NHS workers. Customer and colleague safety remains our main priority, and we have implemented a range of changes in store to enable social distancing so those who come to our stores can do so safely. New floor markings in our car parks help customers to maintain safe distances. Where necessary, we are limiting the flow of people coming into our stores to ensure they don’t get too congested. Where possible, we have created separate entrances and exits to our stores, so that it’s easier to keep a safe distance from other shoppers, and in some stores, we have introduced directional floor markings and new signage, to create a safe flow around the store.  New floor markings also help customers to stay a safe distance from other customers while waiting to pay.

We are also providing support to community organisations helping the vulnerable across the UK. Last week we confirmed a £30 million package of support for a range of community organisations. We currently donate £3 million of food every month through our Community Food Connection scheme and distribution centres.  On top of that, we will provide £15 million of food donations (ambient and fresh) to FareShare and the Trussell Trust over the next 12 weeks – food they need for distribution to community groups and food banks.  In addition, we’ll donate £1 million between the two organisations to support their continuing operations. We will focus £2 million of funding from our Bags of Help community donation scheme to charities that are helping the most vulnerable and we’re also donating £2 million to the British Red Cross to help them with the extra costs they face in supporting people in need. This week, we were also confirmed as the retail partner of which will provide one million free meal parcels to front line NHS workers.

We continue to do everything we can to support the most vulnerable. If you have any further questions, please do let me know.

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