Shopping information for carers

Shopping information for carers

Most supermarkets are offering extra help for vulnerable groups, both in opening hours and access to on-line delivery slots. If you need a letter from us to identify you as a Surrey carer, please call 0303 040 1234.

Shopping from home and in person

Shops are well stocked at present, and have safety measures in place, so shopping for essentials is less difficult than before. Some shops are setting aside special times for older and vulnerable customers, including carers, to shop; as well as giving priority for online shopping deliveries and other community support. 

If you need to bring the person you’re caring for with you

If you need to go to the shops with the person you’re caring for – either because they can’t go alone, or you can’t leave them alone at home – we can help with an official NHS Carer COVID Identification Letter which shows you are a carer. You do need to be a Surrey carer, registered with us, but that’s easy to do: give us a call on 0303 040 1234, or sign up here. This may be more important now as some shops, including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi and Waitrose are encouraging shoppers to come alone in a bid to cut queues and encourage social distancing in stores, although they acknowledge that this won’t be possible for everybody.

You may find it easier to shop at a quiet time, such as mid-afternoon or late in the day. Supermarkets continue to prioritise vulnerable shoppers for online shopping deliveries.

Priority for deliveries

If you were classed as a priority last time, that remains the same, but if you want to register yourself, or a relative, go the the government website here. You can also register here for other help, or go direct to your borough council and register for local help there with food, prescriptions or someone to talk to.

If someone else is shopping for you

One option if someone is doing your shopping for you (or you’re shopping for a relative), is to get a giftcard or an e-giftcard for use in store or online, so they can use that to pay for your shopping. (The limit for contactless payment is now £45). Remember to be careful if someone else is doing your shopping: Which has tips on ways to pay someone safely here. See also our news story on how to pay, and a new card here. We have more information on what to avoid on our scam awareness page.

Shopping times and facilities may change, but below we try to list most main supermarkets, with any special opening times and offers.

  • Asda – see below for Asda’s volunteer shopping card
  • Aldi – shops open 30 minutes early for browsing, Monday to Saturday
  • Iceland – plenty of delivery slots
  • Lidl – if you have difficulty queuing, just make yourself known, and they’ll give you priority
  • Marks & Spencer – new Book and Shop service, if you want to avoid any queues.
  • Morrisons – See below for their food boxes and details of their phone contact for the vulnerable
  • Sainsbury’s – priority entry for the vulnerable
  • Tesco – Extended opening hours and more delivery slots
  • Waitrose – Priority if there’s a queue for disabled, elderly and vulnerable customers.

Asda say: We have a ‘volunteer shopping card‘ (bought online) so a friend or relative can more easily shop on your behalf. We recently increased the number of our delivery slots; should any of our customers be self-isolating, we would ask that they advise us of this in the ‘Other Information’ section when placing their order and tell us where they would like us to leave their order (e.g. on the doorstep).

Aldi say: Our shelves are now well stocked throughout the day. Our stores are quieter in the afternoons and quietest after 7pm, and we have a range of safety measures in place. Aldi shopping vouchers come in £5 and £10 amounts. We’re rolling out Click and Collect to more stores, so you can order your shopping online and collect in store. Or, someone else can collect for you; just give them all the details. Our wine and spirits and non-food goods can be ordered online for delivery. For groceries, many of our stores deliver via Deliveroo; look at our page here, to see if there’s one near you.

Iceland say:  We’re offering free delivery over £35 in store and online and we have plenty of delivery slots. In a branch, simply head to the till with your shopping and let a member of staff know. We’ll pack your shopping for you, keep your shopping chilled or frozen, and deliver it at a time that suits you, including that same day.

Lidl say: You’ll find stores are usually busiest 8-11am, average 11am-2pm and quieter after 2pm. Whilst we are encouraging customers to shop on their own where possible, if you require assistance with your shopping you may be accompanied by someone that can support you. This also applies to single-parent families and their children.

Marks and Spencer say: Our shops are now well-stocked throughout the day and our Book and Shop service lets you make an appointment to avoid any queues. Typically, when a slot is booked this is for one person per household. However, we understand customers may need extra assistance and so colleagues in store have been advised that carers should be allowed entry into stores with a customer who has booked an appointment. We have a volunteer e-gift card to make it easier to shop for somoone else. Our stores that sell food, clothing and home are open, with clothing-only floors closed except where they provide access. All our Food stores remain open but stores that only sell clothing and/or homewares and outlet stores are temporarily closed. M&S food is now available online for delivery via Ocado.

Morrison’s say: We’ve expanded our range of Food Boxes. You can select from a variety of boxes from essentials to a special occasion, with convenient delivery directly to your door, usually next day. You can subscribe to get a regular box, and you can order by phone if you don’t have internet access. Our range now includes boxes and hampers for yourself or as a gift, including flowers or an afternoon tea treat, and non-food boxes, such as cleaning materials. We also offer our usual online shopping, including an ‘easy shop’ readymade list to fill your trolley in one click. Volunteer buying your groceries? Send them an eGift or gift card. If you use Deliveroo, Morrison’s new partnership means you can order from a range of 70 items, for delivery to your door (up to 2.5 miles from a store) in as little as 30 minutes. We’ve also expanded our Click & Collect service. With our Doorstep Delivery service (within 10 miles of a store) aimed at elderly, or vulnerable customers (free) and others isolating of any age (small charge), you can order by phone (0345 611 6111) from a range of essentials and pay by card on delivery, which is usually next day (order by 5pm). Find out more here.

Sainsbury’s say: From Thursday 5 November we will offer elderly and vulnerable customers priority access to our stores. This means you can skip the queue at any time so that we can welcome you into our stores quickly and safely. We are giving our customers who are vulnerable priority access to our online home delivery service.  We’ve expanded our Click & Collect service to over 300 locations: customers can place their order online as usual and pick it up from a collection point in the store car park. We encourage you to visit our stores throughout the day to avoid queues when stores open in the morning. The majority of our supermarkets are now open 7am-10pm. Our Volunteer Shopping Cards  make it easier for a helper to shop in store on your behalf.

Tesco say: We want to help everyone through these uncertain times, especially those who need extra help. So we’ve extended our opening hours and the number of delivery slots. Local branches may also have priority hours; for example, Guildford is 9am-10am Wednesday and Sunday. We’re prioritising our deliveries for the vulnerable; find out more here.  To help you stay safe at home, you can now buy a Tesco Volunteer e-Gift Card and email it to whoever is doing your shopping.

Waitrose say: Our disabled, elderly and vulnerable customers are prioritised whenever there’s a queue outside one of our shops. You’ll find many of our stores are quieter at the beginning or end of the day. Our dedicated e-gift card is available for customers who are unable to get to the shops themselves, and want to organise a simple, safe and contact-free payment for groceries delivered by friends, neighbours, family members or volunteers. Find out more about how you can shop safely and simply with us on our website.

If you like to shop online

Ocado are an online-only supermarket, with a big range of food including international food, and they now sell Marks and Spencer food.

Many more shops now have a ‘click and collect’ service, so you can place your order online (or sometimes by phone) and pick it up from the shop, or perhaps have it delivered.

Other options

A number of established suppliers have expanded their deliveries and are accepting orders from new customers, including Wiltshire Farm Foods, who supply frozen ready-meals and are much used by older customers. They also have a priority service if you’re in the ‘extremely vulnerable’ category, and orders can be placed online or by phone (0800 077 3100).

For isolated older shoppers, Age UK Surrey has a free volunteer shopping service. Our partner Surrey carer charity, Crossroads Care Surrey also offer a shopping service. There are community groups all over Surrey who can help you: go to Surrey County Council’s website  or call their Community Helpline on 0300 200 1008 for more information.

Register with us

If you're a carer in Surrey, you can register with us for free to access lots of support and advice. We can also issue our letter 'Someone Depends on Me' carers during the coronavirus outbreak to help you identify yourself if you need to accompany someone, or act for them.