SMALLER stores in the Wee County have been coming to the rescue this week, as supermarkets struggle to cope with panic buying due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Larger retailers, such as Tesco, Asda and Morrisons, have been forced to restrict the number of essential items – such as hand sanitiser and other cleaning products – shoppers can buy.

And while many smaller outlets in Clacks have also seen a spike in demand, many are still able to provide the essentials which are rapidly disappearing from supermarket shelves.

Ronald Stewart, store manager at Tullibody's Scotmid Cooperative, claimed the stockpiling that is sweeping the country is nowhere near as bad in local shops.

He told the Advertiser: "We have been speaking to customers, and to be honest we haven't had a whole lot of panic buying – just more [sales of] toilet paper and paracetamol.

"In general, we're actually quite well stocked.

"We are nowhere near the level supermarkets are with people going crazy, and I think it's because we have people who're regular customers

"We get deliveries four times per week, so we're quite up to speed with stock and not really running out of anything."

The flexibility of smaller stores has also been highlighted as a massive strength in dealing with the increased demand for key items.

Greens of Tillicoultry has been regularly posting on its Facebook page to reassure shoppers.

In one post, a spokesperson for the shop said: "We have been working tirelessly (literally day and night) to bring you stock on the shelves.

"As independent retailers, we have the benefit that we aren't limited to just [one] supplier and can move quickly.

"The slight downside to this is that we may have to pay slightly higher prices when not using our normal suppliers.

"We are doing our utmost to absorb these cost increases ourselves, but our simple ask is that you support local businesses wherever possible during these difficult times."

But it's not just shops that are reassuring local shoppers: Dr Graham Foster, director of public health and strategic planning in Forth Valley, has also spoken out about panic buying.

He said: "I guess there's a panic buying message: why are people buying toilet roll? It will be fine, there's plenty of food, plenty of supplies, if people are just sensible about it.

"Panic buying is really unhelpful...There will be supplies."

Alloa's Tesco, Asda and Morrisons were not able to put anyone forward to speak to the Advertiser for this story.