Labour shortages impacting availability – shopper research 21-23 January 2022

Date : 24 January 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 starting to decline.

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 (21-23 January 2022), fewer adults (63%) interviewed experienced shortages of some food and groceries in-store or online recently, down from 68% in early January. This is a reversion back to the average seen over Q4 2021.

Similar numbers are stockpiling

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More than a third (37%) have recently felt the need to stock up or purchase more than they normally do compared to 38% a fortnight ago. This is still relatively low compared to 50% in January’21 and a high of 64% in April’20.

There has been a slight fall in the numbers saying they will or might stock up (39% vs 42%). This is still much lower than the 60% recorded in March’20.

Regional differences

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Availability concerns are highest in the South West (73%) London and Northern Ireland (68% each).

More than four in ten of those living in the South-West, Yorkshire and Humberside, Northern Ireland and the NorthEast have stocked up recently compared to just 27% in Eastern England.

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 household paper (13%), tins and packaged foods (12%), medicines (9%), household products, hand sanitizer and alcohol (8% each).
  • Claimed shortages are highest for fresh produce (19%, down 2% from early January, but up from 15% before Christmas), savoury snacks (18% vs 21%). Other categories where claimed shortages are highest include dairy (14% vs 18%), and chilled products (13% vs 13%).

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