THERE was one common theme between customers taking advantage of a “protected” shopping hour yesterday – relief.

As supermarkets enforce rationing and pictures show increasingly empty shelves, for older people in the community their regular shop has become a stressful ordeal.

Their thanks, then, go to the chain Iceland, which has introduced a Wednesday morning golden hour from 9am til 10am exclusively for the elderly and vulnerable.

From 10am until 11am elderly shoppers are given priority, although anyone is welcome.

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“This is fabulous, absolutely super”, said Sheena Mitchell, 77.

“It’s a wonderful thing to do and it means you won’t be fighting with everybody else.

“I find that in the shops you just can’t get the things you went out for. I just want the ordinary hand wash but there isn’t any left – you wonder what people were using before.”

Mrs Mitchell lived through rationing and said the lack of consideration between then and now is marked.

She added: “We were much more considerate, more caring for one another to make sure everyone had a bit of what they needed.

“I’m just upset more than anything that my church is closed. Even in war time we were still able to go to church.”

Mars Douglas was shopping for himself and his wife after a poor experience in another local supermarket where it was “absolute pandemonium”.

The 74-year-old said: “There was a queue right round the shop to try and pay – so busy and crowded.

“It’s difficult to say if people are buying to stock up for a month but it certainly looks like people are planning ahead for some time with the amount of things they are buying.

“Pasta and toilet paper are impossible to get hold of – who knows what people are doing with it all. It’s just the two of us at home so we don’t need nearly as much and I am taking a pragmatic approach to the coronavirus situation and using common sense.

“I’ll definitely come back here for my shopping and I really hope other supermarkets follow suit.”

Margaret McGettigan has been at home for several months after fracturing her spine but is finally able to come out in a wheelchair with help from her daughter.

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Mrs McGettigan is the full-time carer for her other daughter and says she has struggled to get adequate supplies of wipes and hand sanitiser, which her daughter requires for her care needs.

She said: “Some of these people have gone too far, haven’t they?

“It is great what Iceland has done, there’s been no shoving or pushing and the staff have helped me very well.

“There was plenty of toilet paper, but we only took what we needed and left the rest for other people – and that’s what everyone should be doing.”

Carol McNicol, 72, is worried about what the future holds for the over-70s after suggestions the Government might enforce a lockdown of senior citizens. She said: “I can’t stand this panic buying going on.

“I went to a supermarket in Clydebank and it was very bad. I said to a staff member that I had never seen it as bad and they said that the same people were turning up every day to stock up on things – it’s absolutely crazy. We were meant to go down to visit my son in Manchester at the weekend but my other son said he didn’t want us travelling by train.

“My grandson phoned to say, ‘Gran, we are so sad you’re not coming to see us,’ and I thought, ‘Don’t cry, don’t cry or I’ll cry.’

“If I have to stay in I will go completely nuts, I really need to get out for fresh air, even if it’s just a short walk. But I’m hoping it’s not going to come to that.”