It’s been five weeks since the nation entered ‘lockdown’ and I’m sure you’re feeling like I am, in that many aspects of this new way of life are becoming strangely 'normal'. But of course, while we all adapt, things are far from normal, and we all have a responsibility to do what we can to fight this pandemic.
At Asda, every one of my colleagues continues to take their responsibility of feeding the nation incredibly seriously and I am genuinely humbled by the efforts I have seen from them.
Our Asda Heroes
Earlier this month we launched a campaign in our stores called ‘Our Asda Heroes’ to recognise our colleagues and thank them for their amazing efforts.
Colleagues like Anne in our Coleraine store who dealt with a customer who had left her purse at home. The customer explained that she’d just come off her night shift at their local hospital and had forgotten her purse. Anne stepped in and paid for her shopping as a thank you for her amazing efforts.
Anne is just one of thousands of our amazing Asda heroes up and down the country who are looking after you during this difficult time, and I know you are taking time to thank our colleagues too—be it with pictures, messages or cards. I cannot tell you how much it means to my team to know that you appreciate the work they are doing during these challenging weeks. Thank you.
We continue to work hard to keep you safe in our shops, by limiting the number of people who can enter during a day as well as implementing social distancing measures and ensuring our stores are cleaned thoroughly and regularly. We’ve now installed Perspex screens at all our checkouts as well as introduced new floor stickers and signage to help you keep two metres apart. To help you keep your contact in our stores to a minimum, we’ve rolled out ‘Scan and Go’ mobile at 541 of our stores—meaning you can use your own device to scan your Asda shopping. We now have thousands of customers actively using Scan and Go in our stores, and you can download it for yourself from your app store.
We all remain committed to keeping our stores safe for you—and so will continue to limit the number of people in our shops at any one time. But please be assured that we’re working to keep our shelves stocked throughout the day. We recently made the decision to keep some of our shops open until 10pm to help those of you on shift work get what you need.
We’ve listened to our colleagues who have said they’d feel safer if they were able to wear a mask while at work, to protect them and their customers. The Government and WHO guidelines do not recommend masks for everyday use, however we completely understand our colleagues’ concerns and want them to feel safe at work as they look after you—and so we will be providing masks to our colleagues who want to wear them.
You may have seen news reports about front line workers having access to COVID-19 key worker testing, and I’m pleased that our colleagues will be part of this programme.
Special Access Hours
We are so grateful for the amazing work of our NHS workers and those who work in the care sector, which is why we continue to offer priority access to our stores for these workers before 9am each Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning—as well as an exclusive hour on Sunday morning, before our stores open. Please try and avoid coming to our stores at these times to let these vital workers get what they need, and we ask those who are NHS workers and care workers to bring their work ID with them to help our colleagues spot you.
Pharmacy and Optical Services
We have over 255 pharmacies in our stores across the UK, and this month we launched a prescription delivery service for our extremely vulnerable customers—meaning colleagues can bring essential medication direct to customers’ homes.
If you have a regular discussion with one of our pharmacists on a particular health issue, you’ll be pleased to hear we’re moving many of these services to the phone—you can call your pharmacist for a discussion and then visit the store to collect your prescription, saving you time and keeping everyone as safe as possible.
We will be launching a ‘Call and Collect’ service at our stores, which will allow our pharmacy customers to call ahead and order their prescription to then collect their medication without coming inside the store.
Our opticians also continue to offer essential and urgent optical care in over 150 optical departments across our stores.
We continue to ask customers who can shop in stores safely to do so, allowing us to use our online services to get food to those who really aren’t able to get outside. In recent weeks we’ve worked to increase our home shopping capacity from 450,000 to 700,000 slots per week. Working with other supermarkets, we’ve contacted those the Government identified as extremely vulnerable—people unable to get out and without a support network—to make sure they have access to the essentials. So far we have written to over 242,000 people to offer them support and have seen orders placed by over 115,000 ensuring they get what they need while they stay safe at home.
To help us get more vans out delivering to homes, we’ve introduced 48 electric vehicles into our estate to run orders from our shops to our Click and Collect points. And we’re delighted that our volunteer shopping card has proven to be a good solution—with almost 30,000 being used since we launched them last month. We’ll continue to look at ways we can do more to help those in our local communities who need it most.
Supporting our Communities
We’ve always been proud to help the communities we serve. At the outset of the pandemic we took early action to support our partners at FareShare and the Trussell Trust. To ensure they could help those in our communities who were struggling to access basic essentials, we donated £5m of funding for logistics and essential services, in addition to our existing food donation programme. This vital funding is already helping FareShare get vans on the road, supporting 336,000 families who need it most every week. It has also helped 230 food banks in the Trussell Trust network set up e-referral systems so vulnerable families can be referred for a food parcel either online or over the phone. In addition, we continue to support ‘free school meals’ by accepting vouchers in our stores.
It was fantastic to be part of the ‘Big Night In’ this week, recognising the amazing work of charities and volunteers up and down the country who continue to support those most in need during this pandemic. We’re also proud to announce a new partnership with breast cancer awareness charity Coppafeel! to help expand our commitments to tackling breast cancer through our long standing Tickled Pink campaign, which has been running for 24 years and raised an incredible £64m for breast cancer research and care.
The new partnership between CoppaFeel! and Tickled Pink will focus on raising awareness, the importance of breast checking, and will champion CoppaFeel!’s message that whatever your age or gender, getting to know your body and chest could save your life.
As well as the communities around our stores, we’re also working to support our wider community of suppliers through the impacts of COVID-19 – be that paying our small suppliers immediately, working to support our British farmers and growers on managing the changes in demand, or maintaining our commitments to over 95% of our George orders.
It’s important that we do everything we can to feed the nation during this time, and we’ll continue to look for ways that we can help.
We’re committed to doing all we can—please help us help you by being kind to our colleagues and each other, and by shopping safely and respectfully.
Find out more about the steps we're taking in response to the Coronavirus outbreak here.