David Brindle and his wife Margaret are seeing a slew of new faces coming through the doors their convenience store in Leyland, Lancashire.
Many of them have scoured their usual supermarkets and found them short of even the basic staples that in normal times are almost guaranteed to be in stock.
At the independently-run Costcutter store on School Lane, the Brindles are also battling to keep up with demand.
David says that their use of local suppliers for essentials like eggs and milk is now paying dividends – but he warns that product availability is still threatened by the nation’s newfound instinct for a panicked purchase.
“We’re restricting some of the items people buy, so that there is enough for everybody – but we are getting abused for it sometimes.
“We had one customer bring six packs of toilet roll to the counter. She said two were for her, two for her daughter and two for where she works – but where does the place she works usually get its toilet paper?
“It’s the same with bread – a lot of people go out to work before the bread van comes, so if we let people take whatever they want during the day, there’d be none left for others later.
“We’re trying to fulfil the needs of the whole community, but we’re trying our very best to look after our regular customers – they’re our priority,” David explains.
Customers are being told to use their own initiative and common sense when it comes to the need for social distancing in the aisles – not just for their own benefit, but for the local shopkeepers on whom they are increasingly coming to rely.
At aged 73 and 70 respectively, David and Margaret should, according to government advice, be reducing social contact with others.
But David says that in spite of their hardworking staff and his son Stephen making regular trips to the cash and carry, there is “not a cat in hell’s chance” that the couple – whose family has operated the business for six decades – could stay at home and keep the shop trading.
“All I’d ask is that, in future, people remember where it was that they got what they needed – and remember that we’re here all the time.”