Shoppers who still need last-minute gifts – and others still stocking up the fridge for the festive season – hit the stores in droves today, only to find some shelves empty.
Many shoppers took to twitter outraged that orders they had placed for collection or delivery weeks ago were not being honoured in full – with some families missing out on turkey, meats and dessert essentials from major supermarkets.
Meanwhile some shoppers were furious to find Easter Eggs already available to buy, despite the fact Easter does not fall until April 21.
With less than 24 hours to go until the first cheeky glass of Christmas breakfast champagne is poured – and fewer still until the first child finds the first noisy toy in a stocking or pillowcase – it was clear from high streets and car parks up and down the country that there is plenty of shopping still to be done.
An aerial photograph taken at 9am revealed that by the time the Marks and Spencer and Tesco superstores stores near Wilmslow, Cheshire opened their doors, their huge outdoor car park was already almost completely full.
An hour later in central London the traditional Christmas meat auction took place in Smithfields Market, with crowds gathering well in advance of the 10.30am opening time to be sure of getting their hands on the best prize turkeys or suckling pigs.
The car park for the large Marks and Spencer and Tesco stores in Wilmslow in Cheshire was close to full already at 9am today
The Tesco supermarket in Mansfield was already filling up with shoppers first thing this morning
A solitary loaf of bread is all that remains on six empty shelves in the bakery aisle of Tesco in Mansfield
Elsewhere in the store supplies of lettuce and green vegetables looked to be running low
And at a Sainsbury’s in Chelmsford, Essex, shoppers took pictures of completely empty shelves
This Asda in Merthyr in Wales closed its doors at 4pm on Sunday but reopened at midnight for eager Christmas Eve shoppers. Scores of people turned up in coats and bobble hats to wait outside the doors. Photographer Kevin Connelly, who took this picture at nine minutes past midnight, said: ‘This is insane – what the hell is wrong with people’
Shoppers in this branch of Asda in Grimsby barely had room to pass each other in the aisles today
Amid tumultuous and good-natured scenes, shoppers passed cash forward over their heads to facilitate purchases by those at the back, and butchers threw their poultry beef, pork and lamb to hungry punters.
But in Tesco in Mansfield, aisles for fresh produce and baked goods stood empty this morning as the car park filled up with expectant shoppers.
Photographs emerged of bare shelves at a Sainsbury’s in Chelmsford, Essex
The traditional Christmas meat auction fell on December 24 this year at Smithfields Market
The friendly London tradition continued with crowds filling the square long before the auction began at 10.30am
Shoppers queued for hoursfor a chance to bid loudly for the best-looking leg of lamb or Christmas bird
As hungry punters pass cash forward, their purchases are flung to them over the heads of fellow shoppers
In the festive spirit: buyers pass their notes forward over each other’s heads to facilitate purchases of meat at Smithfields market in central London
At a Sainsbury’s in Tunbridge Wells shelves designated for specialist sausages and cheese selections stood empty and unreplenished, as shoppers found they had come too late to find the choicest Christmas selections.
In Cambridgeshire, some demanding shoppers were seen making life trickier for others.
The Tesco in Bar Hill and the Morrisons in Cambourne have been reported to be particularly chaotic, with lengthy queues, delays in car parks and empty shelves in the essential aisles.
Bare shelves could be seen where Christmas cheese platters used to sit in Sainsbury’s in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, on December 24, 2018
Yesterday shoppers photographed empty shelves in the stuffing aisle at Tesco in Bar Hill, Cambridge
One shopper told her local paper it was ‘like a scene out of land of the dead.’
She added: ‘One woman walked away with six milks. What’s wrong with humans?’
Some customers were irate not at what was not on the shelves – but rather at what was.
Easter egg display units have been erected in a number of supermarkets despite East remaining a full four months away.
This display unit for Cadbury Easter Eggs – with a whole shelving row of Cadbury Mini Eggs visible in the background – caused a stir on Twitter
At least five whole boxes of Cadbury Creme Eggs were on display at an off licence in London
Cadbury Creme Eggs are believed to be the UK’s best-selling confectionery product between January and April but online there was upset they were already available
But the greatest fury was reserved for those companies – including Asda, Ocado, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, and Marks and Spencer – who let down customers who had ordered and paid in advance for food to be delivered or collected in the final days before Christmas.
One Twitter user rebuked Marks and Spencer for substituting a turkey crown for a smaller whole turkey, and another asked Asda why on earth it had decided sangria was an adequate substitute for mulled wine.
Customers were furious that their best laid plans had been thrown into disarray by supermarkets and grocery retailers failing to deliver or provide food which had been ordered, in some cases weeks in advance
Elsewhere supermarkets seemed to have problems with over- rather than under-supply, with shelves full of joints of meat discounted to half price on display in Coventry.
While some areas of the country struggled to get their hands on last-minute shopping, in Tesco in Coventry pound upon pound of beef and lamb was available discounted up to half price
Fifty per cent was slashed off the price of these joints of beef in Tesco Coventry
In Liverpool the queues outside a family butcher’s shop stretched out the door and around the corner this morning as families waited in line to pick up their festive orders.
The B Clarke And Family meat specialists in Allerton, with a window bedecked with Christmas baubles, were already doing a roaring trade before 11am.
Shoppers queued out the door at a butcher’s in Liverpool this morning on Christmas Eve
B Clarke and Family of Allerton found themselves serving a constant stream of hungry customers