A scarcity of online delivery slots risks sending scores of Christmas dinner plans up in smoke.
Shoppers are desperately scrolling through slot times but finding they are fully booked or will not arrive until after December 25.
Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons all confirmed to MailOnline that they were grappling with a high demand for deliveries.
The festive rush has left people who are self-isolating wondering how they are going to source food, while others choosing to avoid public places before meeting vulnerable relatives are now having to weigh up going to the shops.
The last-minute dash also appears to have resulted in supply issues – which left one Tesco customer furious when her delivery arrived with no turkey.
Experts said that coronavirus has permanently shifted food shopping habits in favour of online orders.
But as Christmas approaches they warned supermarkets are at stretched capacity and buckling under the scramble for orders.
The scramble for food appears to have resulted in shortages – which left one Tesco customer furious when her delivery arrived with no turkey
Shoppers are desperately scrolling through slot times but finding they are fully booked or will not arrive until after December 25. An Asda in London is completely booked for deliveries
People took to social media to vent their frustration at not being able to clinch a booking
Posting a photo of her order, Tesco customer Jennifer fumed on Twitter: ‘Just received my online delivery (last slot available before Christmas) and one product was not available with “no appropriate substitution available”.
‘Only the turkey!!! Really?! On 17 December no alternative turkey you could send? Beyond disappointed.’
Tesco did not immediately respond to a request to comment, but rival supermarkets admitted there were few delivery slots in the run-up to Christmas.
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson told MailOnline they still had some slots available but had seen ‘unprecedented demand for our home delivery service in the run-up to Christmas’.
Asda confirmed to MailOnline that delivery slots were ‘few and far between’ and that, because their lorries are not dispatched on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Wednesday would be the cut-off to get a booking.
And Morrisons spokesperson said: ‘At the moment there’s limited slots available online at Morrisons.com.’
Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said that the pandemic has caused a sea change in how the nation shops.
He told MailOnline: ‘The impact of Covid-19 has seen a seismic shift with customers shopping online.
‘What’s interesting with food is that it seems to be the part of the (retail) sector where there’s been a permanent shift.’
He explained that, unlike other retail outlets which regained physical footfall when the shops opened after lockdown, the change in food shopping behaviour has been ‘sticky’ and the use of online deliveries has not regressed since restrictions eased.
Yet he warned that supermarkets ‘are limited by capacity, and it takes years to alter delivery services’ such as shoring up warehouse and online infrastructure.
Boris Johnson has relaxed coronavirus restrictions so that three households in England can mix from between December 23-37.
The temporary easing of curbs has put family gettogethers back on the menu – along with traditional Christmas dinners.
The Prime Minister advised anyone seeing vulnerable relatives to self-isolate beforehand, which has led some to shun supermarkets and place orders online.
As a result, online delivery slots have been snapped up and left many unable to book an order that will arrive in time.
People took to social media to vent their frustration at not being able to get a booking.
Ryan Peach tweeted Tesco, saying: ‘There are no delivery slots available and I’m having to isolate are there any options available?’
Karen from Tesco responded: ‘Hi Ryan. I’m sorry that you are struggling to get a slot. I’m afraid that as these are fully booked, I’m unable to assign you a slot or make a slot available for you.’
Mr Peach was left deeply unimpressed: ‘That’s a shame. You would think when you can’t leave the house that Tesco would be able to organise a slot!’
Another person wrote: ‘I have to go to Asda and gosh I’m worries it’s going to be busy and no social distancing. But I need to get food and there’s no delivery slots online.’
Another said sarcastically: ‘Well done Sainsbury’s – not a single slot available until December 28. You are bloody useless!’
Industry sources hit back and questioned why people have left bookings until the week before Christmas.