Labour shortages impacting availability – shopper research 04-06 Feb 2022

Date : 07 February 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 remain largely manageable and 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.

Click chart to enlarge

In the latest shopper research conducted for IGD last weekend (04-06 February 2022), more adults (66%) interviewed experienced shortages of some food and groceries in-store or online recently, up from 63% in late January. Despite this increase, there is no upward trend.

Stockpiling on the increase

Click chart to enlarge

Four in ten shoppers (41%) have recently felt the need to stock up or purchase more than they normally do compared to 37% a fortnight ago. This is the highest point recorded since January 2021 but remains well below the highest point of 64% in April 2020.

There has been an increase in the numbers saying they will or might stock up (44% vs 39% two weeks ago). This remains lower than the 60% recorded in March’20.

Regional differences

Click chart to enlarge

Availability concerns are highest in Northern Ireland (75%) London and Eastern England (70% each).

More than four in ten of those living in London, Eastern England, Scotland, the North-West, the South-West and North-East have stocked up recently compared to just 32% in South-East England.

Category differences

Click chart to enlarge

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 (17%), household paper (15%), hand sanitizer (11%), medicines (10%) and household products (8%).
  • Claimed shortages are highest for fresh produce (20%, up 1% from late January, and up from 15% before Christmas), savoury snacks (19% vs 18%). Other categories where claimed shortages are highest include dairy (15% vs 14%), and bakery products (15% vs 13%).

Sign up to our bulletin detailing our round up of the latest economic and political news focused on the food and consumer goods industry.