Asda says it will remove single kitchen knives from sale by the end of April in response to concerns about knife crime.
The supermarket chain confirmed the items would be removed from all stores following increased concerns about knife-related deaths across the UK.
At least 39 people have been killed in stabbings so far this year.
Asda’s senior vice president, Nick Jones, said he believed the store had a “responsibility” to local communities.
He said: “Whilst we have already taken steps to restrict the sale of knives to ensure that they do not fall into the wrong hands, we felt there was more we could be doing to support those looking at how to bring this issue under control.
“We know single knives are the most common knife products to be stolen and that is why we have chosen to remove these items from our stores.
“This is an issue that means a lot to our customers and to our colleagues, and we are committed to playing our small part in helping to make our communities safer for all.”
Asda said its data showed single knives were more commonly stolen than multi-packs.
In 2016, the supermarket chain – along with a number of other retailers – signed a voluntary agreement set out by the Home Office to prevent the sale of knives to under-18s and ensure the kitchen utensils were safely displayed and packaged.
Responding to the latest announcement, a Home Office spokesperson said it “welcomed” the move by Asda.
In September, Poundland announced it would become the first high street retailer to remove kitchen knives from all stores nationwide.
Sky News has contacted Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and M&S to find out if they have similar plans.
Tesco declined to comment and the other supermarkets are yet to respond with details.
It is currently illegal to sell knives to under-18s, although 16 to 18-year-olds can buy cutlery and kitchen knives in Scotland.
Asda’s decision comes as a number of suspects have been charged with murder in separate knife incidents.
A 15-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of 17-year-old Ayub Hassan in west London.
Another teenager is appearing in court for the murder of Spanish-Columbian David Martinez-Valencia in east London.
Four men are also appearing in court on Saturday over the murder of Luciano Dos Santos, 22, who was hit by a car and then stabbed several times in Oxford.
A 20-year-old man has appeared in court charged with the murder of Jodie Chesney, 17, who was stabbed from behind in east London.
Police said three people were stabbed at a club in Birmingham on Saturday, but their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.
Campaigner Danny O’Brien, who founded the group Anti-Knife UK, said he has been campaigning for over a year for shops to be “more responsible” when selling knives.
He said he felt the group’s campaign “played a part” in the company’s decision and hoped other chains would follow suit.
O’Brien has also called for stores to tag knives to prevent the items being stolen.
“It will not stop knife crime but means stores can do an ID check before the knife is handed to the customer,” he said.
According to figures gathered by the Press Association, shoplifting incidents in UK supermarkets rose by nearly 8% between 2014 and 2017 – with 78,110 incidents investigated in 2017.
The figures did not show how many of these incidents involved the theft of knives.
Some have argued that the move by Asda is a publicity stunt and does not do enough to deter potential criminals, as knives are still available to buy in multi-packs.
(c) Sky News 2019: Asda to remove single kitchen knives from sale by end of April