Our survey amongst the Independent convenience store community across the UK last week has shown that they are being seriously impacted by the so-called “pingdemic.” Respondents were independent store keepers throughout the UK.
Retailers were asked to outline where the biggest impact has been felt. 57% of respondents reported that Range Availability was the area that had been impacted most by the current supply issues. [Figure 1] This is in line with the range issues seen in the larger supermarkets.
A substantial shortage of haulage drivers has been reported as one of the causes of the current supply issues. Just over 26% of stores reported that they were experiencing disruptions to their deliveries. [Figure 1]
In terms of the cause of the supply issues, retailers appear to be split down the middle. 37% of retailers believe that the NHS Track & Trace System is responsible while the same number of stores believe that Brexit is responsible. [Figure 2] Some mainstream outlets have reported European drivers returning home and avoiding routes into the UK due to post-Brexit buerocracy.
Worryingly, 72% of retailers polled reported that they had been financially impacted negatively by the current supply issues [Figure 3]. Many independent retailers saw a substantial increase in their footfall, sales and basket size during the previous lockdowns, which has since decreased. This, coupled with staff disruption due to NHS Track & Trace, has the potential to amplify the damage caused by supply shortages. This issue could be worsened even further if the convenience sector does not recover at the same speed as the multiples.
Perhaps the most important question is: “How bad do things need to get before the authorities take action to reduce the impact of the driver shortage and the self-isolation over-reaction – particularly amongst those who have already been twice-vaccinated?”
We watch with interest the outcome of the government plans for key workers to be able to become exempt from their isolation.