‘They’re a greedy lot of scumbags’

A senior citizen has condemned people who allegedly barged past supermarket security last week during shops’ ‘Elderly Hour’ events.

Iris Boland (84), from Holbeach, said: “I lived through World War II and I assure you, nothing like this ever happened.”

Amid panic buying last week, supermarkets piloted ‘Elderly Hour’ on Friday, which the government suggested would help elderly people – a vulnerable group in the coronavirus crisis – shop to get essential supplies.

However, Mrs Boland said she spoke to staff at both Holbeach Tesco and Sainsbury’s in Spalding who said it’s not practical given the abuse staff received from non-elderly members of the public trying to shop.

“It’s ok for Boris [Johnson] to say it but it’s not happening,” she said.

“My neighbour went to Tesco and it was absolute bedlam. The world and its son was there.”

Mrs Boland said she went to Tesco to get milk the afternoon after Elderly Hour to get milk and found the shelves were bare though people bulk-buying. “It’s crazy,” she said. “They’re a greedy lot of scumbags.”

She then went to Spalding to try Sainsbury’s and was met by a similar scene.

She asked staff and management about the morning’s Elderly Hour and was told it was ‘the worst morning’ staff had ever had and there was a chance the event would be cancelled as it couldn’t be policed.

Individual stores can not publicly comment but a spokesman for Sainsbury’s head office said: “We’re keeping future slots under review in line with Government guidance and are listening to feedback we receive from our customers and colleagues.”

A Tesco spokesman said on Friday: “The priority shopping hours for elderly and vulnerable are one of the ways we’re trying to help these customers get access to the things they need. We had our first hour this morning and whilst overall the feedback has been positive, we know some stores were still very busy during this time, as they have been since we opened at 6am.

“We’re working round the clock to get products on shelves but the reality is availability is challenging at the moment and that’s why we’re asking customers to help us by giving priority to elderly and vulnerable customers during these times slots, which are advertised in stores.”

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