Availability concerns and stockpiling decline

Date : 08 March 2022

Availability issues

Operational labour and HGV driver shortages continue to disrupt food supply chains. Although there are some regional variations, absence rates within the food and consumer goods industry due to the Omicron variant are declining.

Food and consumer goods businesses have been hit hard by recruitment and retention challenges. This is resulting in lower order fulfilment levels than normal, meaning there is an impact on availability of some food and groceries.

The government has committed to a package of support including the issuing of temporary visas for HGV drivers. Please see our latest Viewpoint report for more insight.

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In the latest shopper research conducted for IGD last weekend (04-06 March 2022), fewer adults (56%) interviewed experienced shortages of some food and groceries in-store or online recently, down from 66% in early February. This is the lowest point since early September ’21.

Stockpiling declines

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A third of people (33%) have recently felt the need to stock up or purchase more than they normally do compared to 41% a month ago. This is the lowest point recorded since November 2021. This compares to a high of 64% in April 2020.

There has been a fall in the numbers saying they will or might stock up (35% vs 44% a month ago).

Regional differences

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Availability concerns are highest in London (67%), the North-East (64%) and Northern Ireland (58%).

Nearly four in ten of those living in London (38%), Yorkshire & Humberside (38%) and the North-West (37%) have stocked up recently compared to just 25% in Wales.

Category differences

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The chart above compares the categories being stocked up and the categories that shoppers claim to be in shorter supply.

  • The top categories that are being stocked up remain tins and packaged goods (13%), household paper (10%), cereals (8%), hand sanitizer (7%) and medicines (7%).
  • Claimed shortages are highest for savoury snacks (17%, down 2% on early February) and fresh produce (16% vs 20%). Other categories where claimed shortages are highest include bakery products (12% vs 15%), dairy (11% vs 15%) and breakfast cereals (11% vs 9%).

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