Tesco will limit the number of items customers in the UK can order in an online shop to 80 during the coronavirus emergency, it said today. 

It said a typical online order before the crisis hit would contain fewer than 60 items but the average had notably increased recently due to the number of very large shops over 100 items.

Tesco said the threshold of 80 had been set so that it did  not restrict customers doing a normal weekly shop. 

"By introducing this new limit, we can get more orders onto each van, allowing us to release significantly more delivery slots over the coming weeks, as part of our efforts to ensure all customers can access the essentials they need," it said. 

The UK supermarket sector is dealing with unprecedented demand during the outbreak as consumers stock up, fearing a prolonged period of isolation, while schools, pubs, cafes and restaurants have been forced to close. 

Supermarket groups have been struggling to keep shelves stocked and last week limited customer purchases of most products. 

Their online operations have been running at full capacity too. 

Tesco has also asked customers who are able to safely visit stores to do so, instead of shopping online, so that it can start to free up more slots for the more vulnerable. 

Tesco Ireland said it is currently not limiting the number of items per baskets for online shopping customers.

However, it continues to keep this under review and will communicate with customers if changes are planned.