IN the brutal fall-out from the coronavirus crisis, which seems certain to reverberate for years to come, the news on the economic and business front has been almost uniformly grim.

The response from the nation’s major supermarkets, independent grocers and many other businesses to the crisis, however, has applied some much-needed balm to the soul.

As the job losses spiralled into the tens of thousands last week, prior to the UK Government’s pledge to help companies retain staff by covering up to 80 per cent of their wages (up to a maximum of £2,500 per month), big-name players such as Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco threw a lifeline to many who suddenly found themselves without a job.

The grocers moved swiftly to advertise tens of thousands of casual posts in light of soaring demand from an increasingly worried population for essential supplies, against a backdrop of widespread concern about panic buying.

READ MORE: Scott Wright: Chancellor finally gives businesses fighting chance of survival

Tesco alone said it would recruit up to 20,000 temporary workers on 12-week contracts to help ensure its customers get the food, drink and other household products they need. And Aldi launched a recruitment drive for 9,000 posts; 5,000 are temporary roles in stores and distribution centres to get food on to shelves and support communities throughout this time of crisis.

These are just two examples of the recruitment bonanza across the grocery and food supply sector that has provided light during the darkest of times.

But it is not just through the creation of jobs and ramping up efforts to fill shelves that the supermarkets have impressed.

Grocers deserve credit for setting aside times for NHS workers – the people on the frontline of this battle – to ensure they will not be faced with empty shelves after coming off gruelling shifts.

Moves to give priority to vulnerable groups in home delivery slots, the Morrisons food box initiative – a delivery of essential household items consumers can order for £35 – and lifting the limit on contactless card payments to £45 also demonstrate smart, creative thinking.

Independent grocers have been rising to the challenge too, with no shortage of kindness being shown by shopkeepers to ensure vital supplies continue to reach the most vulnerable in their communities.

One particularly innovative store owner in Old Kilpatrick has devised a system where customers select what they want from pictures, before the items are handed to theScottish tourism industry declares only cash aid can save thousands of jobsm through a hatch.

Of course, the spirit of compassion is not confined to the food-and-drink sector.

READ MORE: Scott Wright: Small firms are displaying tremendous resolve, but governments must do more to help them weather the virus storm

A new recruitment portal has been set up to match-make workers from the crisis-torn tourism and hospitality sectors with temporary roles elsewhere, for example in retail, food supply and healthcare.

And distillers have been lending their support too. Kingsbarns Distillery in Fife announced yesterday that it has produced its first-ever batch of hand sanitiser, which will be distributed to those most vulnerable from the outbreak in its native East Neuk of Fife. Kingsbarns is just one of a growing number of brewers and distillers that are helping to meet the demand for sanitising products.

It is touches and initiatives like these that gladden the heart at a time when we are being asked to delve into our reserves of mental reserve as never before.

Unfortunately, not all of us are covering ourselves in glory.

The way in which staff at the Coylumbridge Hotel in Aviemore were told their services were no longer required and left without accommodation did no favours for a tourism and hospitality industry that has generally fought hard to protect its staff and businesses since the crisis erupted.

READ MORE: Scottish tourism industry declares only cash aid can save thousands of jobs

And, despite repeated pleas from the UK and Scottish governments and bodies such as the British Retail Consortium (BRC), urging people to only buy what they need and to think of others as they browse the shelves, there would still appear to be far too many examples of people stockpiling for their own individual needs.

The message from the grocery sector is that there is enough for everyone; all we need is a little more patience.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, appeared in the UK Government’s daily briefing on Saturday and urged people not to panic.

Remarkably, Ms Dickinson said, the UK has already spent an additional

£1 billion on food and drink since the crisis started – why not make a dent in this before hitting the aisles again?

Ms Dickinson said: “I want to reassure everybody that people right across the food industry, from growers, packers, producers, distributors, drivers and the people right at the frontline in our stores are doing everything they can to make sure we have the food that we all need.

“There is plenty of food in the supply chain; the issue is around people and lorries - so, getting the food onto the shelves, which is why we’ve seen some shortages in some areas.”

As Ms Dickinson acknowledged, the UK Government itself was taking steps to ease the strain on the supply chain, lifting curfews on delivery hours, and relaxing some aspects of competition laws to allow rival retailers to collaborate more.

“What’s been vital over the last few days has been the dialogue we’ve had with government,” she said.

“There’s a whole list of things where we’ve raised an issue and it’s been addressed quickly.”

Now we are facing even more restrictions on our personal movements, following the move into near-total lockdown announced by the Government on Monday evening, it is surely incumbent on all of us to behave in a more thoughtful way in the aisles.

This is especially the case given the pressures household budgets are

already coming under, and which seems certain to ramp up even further until the crisis eases and some semblance of normality returns.

Across the UK, people are being forced to take pay cuts to help their employers survive the precipitous fall in revenue the coronavirus has caused.

This is happening as parents and carers are being asked to supplement the extraordinary efforts being taken by teachers to ensure the education of children can continue in their homes, and to look after elderly loved ones.

Thankfully, anecdotal evidence seems to suggest the message is getting through.

We might not be able to access the full range of items we are used to, but there is more than enough on the shelves.

It could be argued that getting used to a little less may well be no bad thing if we are truly to change our ways, for the better, in the long run.