Shoppers have vented their anger online after finding rows of empty shelves at their local supermarkets in the first days of the year.

Customers at Lidl and Sainsbury's lamented the lack of food available in store on 2 January as they looked to carry out their first grocery shopping of 2018. According to the MailOnline, the issue hit Sainbsury's branches in Mere Green in Birmingham, Melton Road in Leicester, Calne in Wiltshire and Forestside in Belfast.

Some of the supermarket's branches in south London were also affected, with shops in Clapham and Balham sporting empty shelf. A customer of the latter, posted a series of pictures on Twitter, showing bare shelves and empty fruit and veg boxes.

"Hi @sainsburys. Is there a reason why your Balham London store is nearly always half empty?," he wrote.

"I've never seen a store so consistently understocked. Really frustrating."

Sainsbury's said the images only reflected the reality of a "tiny" number of stores that were now fully stocked.

"We have over a thousand stores and each sells tens of thousands of different products," said a spokesperson for the FTSE 100-listed company.

"There were a handful of empty shelves in a tiny number of stores yesterday, which are all now fully stocked."

Britain's second-largest supermarket chain was not the only one affected, with Lidl customers also complaining about empty shelves in branches Lancashire, Tyne and Wear and Bexley and Hackney in London.

One customer took to Twitter to tell people not to bother shopping at Lidl in Hackney due to "bad stock planning".

"Shopping at @LidlUK in Hackney...? Don't bother, there is nothing! Bad stock planning," she wrote.

Through its official account Lidl replied: "We're sorry about that, Alicia. Our supply team have been made aware of your experience in our Hackney store. Thanks."

The German discount chain admitted the issue was due to "the busy Christmas period and the seasonal switchover" but added only "a small number of stores" were affected.

"Following the busy Christmas period and the seasonal switchover, a small number of stores may have experienced some product shortages," said a spokeswoman for Lidl.

"We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused and can assure our customers that our teams are working hard to maintain stock availability in those stores."