Coronavirus (COVID-19): ensuring the most vulnerable members of society get the food and groceries they need

Date : 01 April 2020

Many column inches and news broadcast minutes have focused on the challenge of getting food and groceries to the most vulnerable members of society, in a world where large sections of society are not allowed to leave their homes except for essential purposes, and where retailers are under increased pressure to keep essential food and grocery products in stock.

A quarter need outside help

According to our recent data, 23% of shoppers said that they would need friends or family members to bring food and groceries to them during the period of social distancing. At an age group level, two groups stand out above this: 25-34 year olds, and the over 65s.

25-34 year olds are much more likely to have very young children at home, with 31% of this group saying they have children under 5 years old. They are likely to be reluctant to leave the house as result, or simply unable – without childcare to support them while shopping.

Older shoppers, as the group most at risk from Coronavirus (COVID-19), have had their movements restricted more heavily by the government (if over 70 years old). As a result, the majority of this group have been discouraged from leaving their homes for any reason, including to go food shopping.

Both groups, therefore, are more dependent on support from outside their households during this time.

Local communities coming together

However, there is good news within our data. There have been many examples in the international media showing local communities coming together in support of their vulnerable members, and our data reflects that too.

Of the group that said that they would need support from friends and family, 59% of them said that their local community had come together to help the vulnerable get the food and groceries that they need. Within that, 74% of 25-34 year olds and 56% of over 65s said the same thing.

*amongst the 23% of shoppers who said they would need support from friends or family members during social distancing

There is still more that can be done, and we should all remember that there are vulnerable people in every age group – with underlying health conditions, for example – that need support, but might not be top of mind when considering how best to help. But shoppers across the country are telling us that their local communities are stepping up.

How is the food and grocery industry helping?

Retailers and manufacturers across the UK, and the world, are taking action to help those in need. Whether it be boosting online shopping capacity, direct deliveries of food packages to vulnerable people, or store opening times dedicated to key workers and the elderly.

You can out more information about the latest industry response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) here, and more insight on how shoppers are coping here.