Economics bulletin 07 January

Date : 06 January 2022

Your overview of political and economic news with a focus on the food and consumer goods industry, featuring the latest developments and guidance on COVID-19, labour shortages and adapting to a new relationship with the EU.

Managing absence

Absence rates within the food and consumer goods industry due to the Omicron variant have increased but are largely manageable.

Businesses in England can introduce workplace mitigations to stem the increase in absence rates. These measures including ‘cohorting’, ‘fixed teams’, ventilation and screens or barriers to separate people who don’t normally mix.

Businesses can also reduce the risk by encouraging staff to get vaccinated and to receive the booster. See the section on ‘reducing contact for workers’ for further details.

The government is requesting that businesses complete a daily labour absence survey.

Critical workers daily lateral flow tests

To limit workplace absence, the Prime Minister has announced that 100,000 critical workers will be eligible to receive lateral flow tests every working day from 10 January.

This includes workers that are deemed critical to the supply chain such as those working in large retail and wholesale distribution centres and in animal processing plants. The government is contacting eligible businesses to organise logistics.

Plan B extended

The government has announced that the current Plan B rules will continue in England and will be reviewed again by 26 January. This includes advice to work from home if possible and compulsory face masks in most indoor venues apart from hospitality.

See updates to the workplace guidance.

Changes to self-isolation and PCR tests

Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 will need to self-isolate for 7 days rather than 10 days in all parts of the UK. This assumes the following:

  • A negative lateral flow test result on days 6 and 7 of their self-isolation period
  • Unvaccinated contacts of positive COVID-19 cases are still required to self-isolate for 10 days

See here for more details.

See the rules on self-isolation in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government has announced that from 11 January in England, people who test positive for COVID-19 via a lateral flow test will no longer be required to take a confirmatory PCR test. These people can self-isolate immediately.

Christmas sales and availability

Recent research has revealed that take-home grocery sales were 8% stronger than 2019 for the 12 weeks to 26 December 2021.

On-shelf availability is reported to have been slightly down on last year, though still holding up relatively well despite issues relating to COVID-19.

See our shopper research on availability from just before Christmas.

Stable confidence

Latest results from IGD’s Shopper confidence index (for ShopperVista subscribers) reveal that shopper confidence remained stable over Christmas.

Changes to EU-GB Imports and exports

There are reported to have been only minor issues with changes to the rules regarding imports from the EU to GB from 1 January 2022. However, it should be noted that this is at a time of relatively low volumes being imported.

See here for further details.

This follows publication of a revised version of the Border Operating Model. Please note that full customs declarations are required from 1 January (although delayed payment may be possible).

See further details, including our opinion on the latest changes.

Businesses are encouraged to prepare for new regulations for the export of products of animal origin that apply from 15 January.

See the Key dates for UK-EU transition and support for businesses

See the guidance on trade with the UK as a business based in the EU.