SUPERMARKET bosses are reassuring customers that they’re ready and prepared for a second wave of coronavirus, amid fears panic buying could be making a comeback in south Essex.

It comes after a picture shared to the Echo’s Facebook page, taken between 7pm and 8pm on Monday night, showed bare shelves in the section for toilet roll at the Asda store in Pipps Hill Retail Park, Basildon.

And the toilet roll aisle at Waitrose in Billericay also appeared empty on Tuesday, as new restrictions were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging people to work from home if they can, and a curfew on pubs and restaurants meaning they must close by 10pm.

Some supermarkets across the UK have reported that customers had begun to stockpile toilet roll and food, following suggestions of an incoming second lockdown.

Jack Monroe, a well-known Southend writer, even picked up on a shortage of pasta and toilet roll at her local Asda on Sunday afternoon.

Kimberley O’Connell, who shops at Morrisons on Western Approaches, Eastwood, said: “This is also something I noticed the other day.

“I spotted particularly a shortage in tomato sauce, there seemed to be less pasta and the toilet roll looked sparse.

“On the other hand when I was in Lidl there was loads, but queuing at shops has been quite bad.”

The 45-year-old from St Laurence, added: “Panic buying is so selfish, so I hope we don’t have it again.

“In lockdown we was out of toilet roll- it got really difficult where there’s five of us in the house. Until you’re without these essentials you don’t realise how much you need them.

“The trouble is people with more money can bulk buy, so it leaves those like the elderly who can’t go in the shop as much less to choose from. I remember even watching videos of people fighting for toilet roll, it was ridiculous.”

But despite concerns Lidl, Aldi, Asda, Tesco and Sainsburys all insist that they are currently not experiencing any shortages and that availability remains good at their stores.

Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers have done an excellent job in ensuring customers have access to food and necessities throughout this pandemic.

“Since March, retail businesses have strengthened their supply chains as well as investing hundreds of millions to make stores safe and secure for customers; this includes perspex screens, social distancing measures and additional hygiene measures.

“As such, retail remains a safe space for consumers, even under future lockdowns.

“Supply chains are stronger than ever before and we do not anticipate any issues in the availability of food or other goods under a future lockdown. Nonetheless, we urge consumers to be considerate of others and shop as they normally would.”

Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, said: “People are of course aware of the new restrictions in place and sometimes react and think I need to do this now because it’s best for my family.

“I understand this, but the shops remain open and there is no indication they need to shut. We all must continue to make sensible and rational decisions. Lots of smaller shops are also around, so shop locally if you can.”

Since March Asda have increased their online delivery slots from 450,000 to over 700,000.