A charity is encouraging supermarkets to waive delivery fees for those most at risk of coronavirus this winter. Independent Age, an older people’s charity has published a new report, highlighting the mounting costs that vulnerable older adults face as they try to access food delivery services throughout the winter months.
The research shows that 57% of people aged 65 and over do not currently feel comfortable shopping in a supermarket and have been relying on internet grocery shopping instead. However, many feel they are being unfairly penalised with minimum spend limits and delivery fees increasing the cost of the weekly shop.
Independent Age is urging supermarkets to act and provide additional help for vulnerable people in later life by :
- Lowering the minimum spend limit and reducing or removing delivery costs for priority shopping slots
- Ensuring social distancing and mask-wearing measures are being adhered to in stores
- Reviewing the reintroduction of measures such as priority hours
At the start of the first lockdown in April, supermarkets introduced priority slots for vulnerable people who were at more risk of the virus. Many of these slots included free delivery. However, since the partial easing of restrictions in August, some retailers have been reintroduced delivery charges. Over Christmas, delivery slots are limited and, with supermarkets increasingly crowded, many older people fear they will struggle to access groceries safely.
Independent Age Chief Executive Deborah Alsina said: “Christmas will be different for us all this year, but it is likely to be incredibly hard for older people and those more vulnerable to the virus. Many will not only be apart from their loved ones but may also face a Christmas when buying groceries forces a terrible choice.
This winter, older people will either have to risk their health in crowded supermarkets or pay unexpected additional costs for home delivery. The supermarkets really stepped up during the first lockdown, we’re calling on them again now to help those at risk through this winter.”
The charity’s report also showed that the COVID-19 restrictions were impacting older adults in other ways as well, with 42% of those surveyed reporting that their mental health has declined since the start of the pandemic.
Ms Alsina added: “People in later life have told us that they are feeling increasingly anxious and depressed, yet we know that older people often have greater difficulty accessing mental health services. This is having a knock-on impact on their wellbeing and ability to live independently, and it’s adding to the multitude of difficulties facing older people, who have been deeply affected by the pandemic.”