We know that one of the major impacts on everyday life created by COVID-19 is in being able to shop for everyday necessities, whether these be household goods or foods that are needed for an individual’s particular diet.

Recognising that supermarkets and their staff are doing their very best to adapt day-to-day to the unprecedented situation that we find ourselves in, we have been reached out to each of the major chains to offer assistance and information that can help them better serve autistic customers and families of autistic people. We have also sort clarification on individual offers such as early or exclusive opening for different groups, so that shoppers know when exactly they can visit.

During this time, we think that it is important for all supermarkets to know that:

  • Not all disabilities are visible
  • An autistic person or someone who cares for an autistic person will not have ‘proof’ of their disability
  • Some autistic people may follow strict diets and require specific foods
  • Autistic people may need more time to process information and instruction

Supermarkets are extremely busy and difficult to reach at this challenging time as they get to grips with this unprecedented situation. We are contacting the major supermarket retailers on these, and other topics relating to autistic people during the coronavirus crisis. We are also working with other charities to coordinate our action for greater impact – we know that many people with different conditions are similarly impacted.

We have asked each of the main supermarkets:

  • What is your process for disabled people accessing special shopping hours/delivery slots
  • What can we do to support this?
  • What about carers of people who can’t leave the house – do they get access during priority hours?
  • Can you do anything to help autistic people who have a very narrow diet to access particular foods that are in short stock?

Those retailers who have responded are listed below along with details of their current offer. We will keep updating the information as we get more from other supermarkets.


  • An hour at the start of the day is reserved for the elderly and vulnerable who have the greatest need to access shops at this time
  • Anyone who identifies themselves as part of these categories is welcome but Waitrose asks that each individual exercises discretion about whether they really need to access the shop at this time
  • No 'proof' is required from those identifying as vulnerable, but given the government guidelines around social distancing, the number of people accessing the store at any one time is limited, and it is the store managers discretion as to who is given priority.

Whilst Waitrose are flexible around allowing carers to benefit from the reserved time in store, aligned with PHE and NHS guidance, they are asking those who are not in the elderly and vulnerable categories to come at other times so that it lowers the risk of those who may have been exposed to coronavirus being in the same environment as those who are at risk.


Have launched an elderly and vulnerable hour which is Mon, Wed and Friday 9-10 am. Tesco are looking into our further requests and will update soon.


Have been attempting to identify existing older and disabled online shoppers from their existing records and are prioritising these customers, but with such high demand delivery slots to this group are still first come first served.

Sainsbury’s are looking into our further requests and will update soon.