Labour shortages impacting shopper availability – shopper research 20-21 December 2021

Date : 22 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 earlier this week 20-21 December 2021, the same number of adults interviewed experienced shortages of some food and groceries in-store or online recently.

  • 61% of adults claim to have experienced shortages of some food and groceries in-store or online recently, the same number as over the weekend. This compares with 65% two weeks ago and 68% last month.  
  • Concerns are highest in the North East (73%) and Northern Ireland (71%)
  • Claimed shortages are highest for savoury snacks (25%). This follows production issues at Walkers. Other categories where claimed shortages are highest include fresh produce (15%), dairy (14%), and bakery (13%).

Similar numbers are stockpiling

More than a third (37%) have recently felt the need to stock up or purchase more than they normally do compared to 35% over the weekend and 36% two weeks ago. This is still relatively low compared to 50% in January’21 and a high of 64% in April’20.

More say they will or might stock up (42% v 37% over the weekend). This is still much lower than the 60% recorded in March’20.

Nearly half of those living in London have stocked up recently compared to just around a third in Wales, Eastern England and the Midlands. London has seen some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases recently.

Stockpiling is also highest among those aged 18-44 (43%), ABs (40%) and those with children at home (40%).

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 household paper (11%), tins and packaged foods (10%) and alcohol (10%). These are followed by medicines (8%), hand sanitizer cereals and household products (7% each)
  • Claimed shortages are highest for savoury snacks (25%). This follows production issues at Walkers. Other categories where claimed shortages are highest include fresh produce (15%), dairy (14%), and bakery (13%).

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