Morrisons gives NHS 50 supermarket car parks to host Covid vaccine sites

Morrisons will open up its car parks as Covid-19 vaccine centres from next Monday.

The supermarket chain has made 50 of its sites up and down the country, available to the Government to assist with the vaccination operation.

Morrisons chief executive David Potts said the assets of the company are "at the disposal of the country".

He said: "We'll have three stores operating from Monday 11th January and we have offered up another 47 subject to requirements and availability of the vaccine."

The first lockdown in March saw supermarket shelves across the country stripped bare and bosses are keen to avoid similar scenes.

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But there are currently no plans for Morrisons to address the risk of panic buyers filling their trolleys with certain goods, Mr Potts explained.

"We haven't got limits on things like pasta and flour and all of those things that people seem to stock up on," he said.

"I think we'll see how the British people handle the news. Clearly, we can turn it on fairly sharpish and it's really making sure that everyone has stock."

Remaining open as an essential shop has saved Morrisons from the millions lost in takings due to cafe closures and fuel as fewer journeys are made.

In the past three weeks, sales at the grocer soared 9.3% over the Christmas trading period, compared with the same time a year ago.

Bosses said they also saw an increase in sales in November due to remaining open as an "essential" retailer during the second national lockdown in England.

This was particularly noticeable in Tier 4 areas, under the toughest restrictions, with Mr Potts suggesting a lack of activities was seeing bored customers going on shopping trips instead.

Morrisons added that customers did their Christmas shopping earlier than usual, with sales of champagne up 64% compared with a year ago, along with 40% jumps in salmon sales – selling 500,000 whole fish – and 14% rises in mince pies.

In the nine weeks to January 3 like-for-like sales were up 8.5% and in the six months to the same date they rose 8.3% compared with a year ago, helped by strong sales online and increases in its wholesale business of 24.4%.

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