Here's why Tesco's 24 hour stores are closing tonight - and when they re-open

By Ross McIndoe
Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 5:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 5:33 pm

Many of Tesco’s 24 hour stores will close tonight (18 Mar) for eight hours as they look to replenish shelves.

As panic-buying sets in due to the coronavirus, many stores have reportedly struggled to keep their shelves stocked.

Tesco has over 4,000 locations in the UK, of which around 400 are open 24 hours a day. Here’s everything you need to know about the store closure.

Which stores are closing?

The closure will affect most of Tesco’s larger 24 hour stores, including Tesco Extras, Superstores and Metros.

However, some larger locations which have in-store pharmacies will remain open past 10pm to ensure customers still have access to medication and other essential goods. The exact number of stores closing tonight has not been confirmed.

When will stores close?

The stores will close at 10pm on Wednesday 18 March 2020, and re-open at 6am on Thursday 19 March.

They will then continue to operate only between the hours of 6am and 10pm for the immediate future.

Why are stores closing?

The overnight closure will allow stores to re-stock their shelves more effectively.

A Tesco spokesperson said, “We are changing these store hours to ensure we can serve customers better at this time. It gives our colleagues the time overnight to restock the store, replenish the shelves and support our online grocery service at a time when demand is high."

Like all supermarkets, Tesco have seen a sudden surge in sales as the coronavirus outbreak has people stockpiling goods, in case they have to spend time in self-isolation or stocks begin to run low.

In response, Tesco has confirmed it will be taking a “common sense approach” to preventing panic-buying from reducing their stocks too much. So far, this has involved putting a two per customer limit on items such as pasta, tinned vegetables and toilet roll.

How are other supermarkets handling the increased demand?

As well as Tesco, many other major supermarket chains have introduced measures to combat panic-buying as the coronavirus outbreak continues.

Morrisons has rationed purchases per customer transaction on 1,250 items, such as toilet roll, cleaning products and some health and beauty ranges. Sainsbury’s has taken a similar approach, limiting several lines to two per customer.

Aldi has taken a more wholesale approach and put a restriction in place limiting customers to no more than four of any one product. Asda is limiting customers to three of any single product. Some of their 24 hour stores will also be cutting their hours to 7am to either 10pm or 11pm.

Morrisons has put a purchase limit on “essential items” and also taken steps to massively expand its home delivery service, creating 3,500 new jobs in the process.

Waitrose placed a per customer limit on online sales of certain items, such as antibacterial wipes. Its website has also been experiencing technical difficulties due to the increase in traffic, crashing completely on Tuesday (17 March) night.

As elderly customers are more at risk from the coronavirus, Lidl is introducing prioritised queuing and assistance from 9am to 11am for older customers.