The UK’s top supermarket chains have dismissed press reports that UK shoppers have begun stockpiling food and water in fear of terror attacks.

“Generally, trade has remained steady,” a spokesman for Tesco, the country’s largest supermarket chain, told Reuters. “We haven’t seen any hoarding or anything, and we’re ready to deal with any gaps on the shelves.”

Last week, the government advised that the public should take “sensible precautions” such as having ready-to-eat food, bottled water and a battery-powered torch at home. On its advice website, the Home Office says that such precautions are sensible in case of any major disruption, including severe weather and floods.

A spokesman for J Sainsbury said any increase in the sale of water and canned goods had been “very slight” and there had not been a risk of supply shortages.

Retailers also pointed out that the above-average temperatures could be behind increased sales of water.

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By GlobalData

None of the UK retailers that Reuters spoke to said they experienced the so-called “CNN effect”, a temporary slump in sales like the one that hit some US retailers last week as consumers stayed in to watch the coverage of the war in Iraq on US television.

“We did experience a “CNN effect” late in the week, but the impact was minimal,” US retail giant Wal-Mart said, referring to slightly slower sales in the first couple of days of the war in Iraq.

Wal-Mart’s UK subsidiary Asda, however, did not experience such an effect.

“We’ve seen slightly increased sales in water, but that has died down. It was never panic buying though. It’s business as usual here. If anything, people have been buying a little more of things like pasta and rice,” an Asda spokeswoman was quoted by Reuters as saying.