Labour shortages impacting availability – shopper research 03-05 December 2021

Date : 07 December 2021

Availability issues

Operational labour and HGV driver shortages continue to disrupt food supply chains. Food and consumer good businesses have been hit hard by recruitment and retention challenges in 2020 and 2021. 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. Download our Viewpoint: A harsh winter ahead? report for more insight.

In the latest shopper research conducted for IGD over this last weekend 03-05 December 2021, slightly fewer adults interviewed experienced shortages of some food and groceries in-store or online recently.

  • 65% of adults claim to have experienced shortages of some food and groceries in-store or online recently, compared to 68% two weeks ago.
  • Concerns are highest in the North East (78%), South West (77%), Eastern England (75%) and Northern Ireland (75%)
  • Claimed shortages are highest for savoury snacks (24%). This follows production issues at Walkers. Other categories where claimed shortages are highest include fresh produce (19%), bakery, dairy (15% each), soft drinks and fresh meat or fish (13% each).

Slightly more are stockpiling

Slightly more are claiming to stock up. More than a third (36%) have recently felt the need to stock up or purchase more than they normally do compared to 32% two weeks ago. This is still relatively low compared to 50% in January’21 and a high of 64% in April’20.

There has been no change in the number who say they will or might stock up (37%). This is still much lower than the 60% recorded in March’20.

Nearly half of those living in the north east claim to have stocked up recently compared to just 27% in south east England. Stockpiling is also highest among those aged 18-44 (42%), ABs (41%) and those with children at home (41%).

Category differences

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 foods (14%) and household paper (10%). These are followed by hand sanitizer (8%), medicines, cereals and alcohol (7%)
  • Claimed shortages are highest for savoury snacks (24%). This follows production issues at Walkers. Other categories where claimed shortages are highest include fresh produce (19%), bakery, dairy (15% each), soft drinks and fresh meat or fish (13% each).

Sign up to our bulletin detailing our round up of the latest economic and political news focused on FMCG.