Tesco apologises after customer told period products 'not essential' during lockdown

  • Watch: The health minister says he was "saddened" to hear about a woman being refused period products at a Cardiff Tesco store

Tesco has apologised after it mistakenly prevented customers from buying sanitary products during the fire-break lockdown.

The Welsh Government had to confirm period products are essential items after a woman was told she wasn't able to buy them at a Cardiff supermarket.

Nichola Smith tweeted to say she was "raging" after being told she was unable to buy the products. Her daughter Katie then tweeted Tesco and, in a now deleted reply, the supermarket claimed Welsh Government told them "not to sell these items" during the fire-break.

A government spokesperson later said that this was "wrong" and supermarkets are still allowed to "sell items that can be sold in pharmacies".

Supermarkets are not allowed to sell items classed as non-essential during lockdown in a bid to ensure a "level playing field" between them and other retailers who have been forced to close.

Tesco apologised for the mistake and claimed the aisle containing the products was "closed temporarily" because of a break-in.

Nichola claims she was not informed of a break-in at the time and was told it was due to government guidelines.

Tesco have now deleted this reply and apologised for the mistake.

Welsh Government said Tesco's tweet was false and the government has not banned the selling of any hygiene products. It emphasised that supermarkets can continue to sell products that would be found in a pharmacy.

During the fire-break, supermarkets should not sell items like clothing but shoppers can purchase things, like stationery, that continue to be sold in other essential shops.

Criticism over the ban of non-essential items has mounted, with more than 60,000 people signing a petition calling for it to be lifted.

Tesco issued an apology for the mistake and said that this was an "isolated incident".

A spokesperson for the chain said: "Sanitary products are essential items and are available to customers in all of our stores in Wales.

"Due to a break-in, this area was closed temporarily in one store for a police investigation, but is now open again. The reply to this customer, which implied these products were non-essential, was sent by mistake and we’re very sorry for any confusion caused."

They added that the tweet reply "was a standard response from our customer services team when responding to queries about non-essential items".

South Wales Police confirmed it was investigating a break-in at the store where £20,000 worth of beauty products had been stolen.

The First Minister confirmed on Saturday that Welsh Government would review the 'clarity' of the measure to ensure "common sense" was being applied.

From 6pm on Friday 23 October, Welsh supermarkets had to stop selling items like clothing which are classed as non-essential. Credit: PA Images

Mr Drakeford previously said the restriction was introduced as "a straightforward matter of fairness" to create a "level playing field" with other non-essential retailers forced to shut.