Leeds-headquartered supermarket chain Asda has begun trialling a “virtual queuing” system to help its stores contend with the COVID-19 emergency.
The system means people can log into the queue remotely and wait in their cars to enter stores.
Asda is testing the virtual queuing system at its branch in Middleton, near Leeds and notes that two-thirds of customers are still concerned about their safety in supermarkets.
Chief executive Roger Burnley said it was clear COVID-19 will continue to be part of people’s lives for months to come.
Asda has also just released a trading update for the period 1 January to 31 March 2020. It reports that like-for-like sales, excluding petrol, rose 3.5% compared to the same period a year ago.
The business notes a significant decline in demand for non-essential items, such as fashion, fuel and general merchandise, adding that it was required to close 33 of its Living Stores in March in response to Government guidance on non-essential retail.
The supermarket says it saw its smaller stores perform strongly, as customers preferred to shop locally and avoid travel during the early weeks of lockdown.
And it experienced a surge in demand for home shopping deliveries, with Asda.com receiving more than 3,500 visits per minute during the week commencing 18 March.
Burnley said: “As more people return to work, they are juggling the demands of cooking more and having less time to shop for groceries.
“Our latest income tracker data shows household incomes declined 0.6% in March, the first drop since 2017 and 90% of customers told us they are worried about a depression in the economy.
“Whilst safety is still a major focus for customers, three quarters tell us they are also increasingly concerned about the price of groceries and are looking for value. We can reassure them that Asda will meet their needs on both.”