Product shortages ‘worse’ than during pandemic panic buying

Supply chain disruption has left out-of-stock products worse than during the period of panic buying at the beginning of the pandemic, according to UK shoppers.

Research from Retail Insight, which surveyed 1,000 consumers in the UK, found that 56 per cent of respondents felt that product shortages are worse in-store compared to early 2020 - when some supermarket shelves were left empty due to panic buying.

A further 46 per cent said stock availability online was now lower than during the same period of panic buying.

42 per cent said out-of-stocks seemed to be more of a bricks-and-mortar issue, and while items were not available in-store, online availability seemed better.

However, almost two thirds - 63 per cent - said there was often a replacement item that met their needs if their usual products or brand was not available on the shelf.

“For the most part, shoppers are understanding of the well-publicised and multifaceted pressures facing retailers in today’s challenging trading environment," said Paul Boyle, chief executive, Retail Insight. "But that does not stop poor availability, out-of-stocks and shelf-gaps from becoming more than just a bone of contention in their buying journeys.

"Poor stock availability – whether in-store or on the digital shelf - is one of the biggest drivers of customer dissatisfaction, and where baskets get abandoned and long-term loyalty can be lost. We estimate that retailers lose 8 per cent of revenue through poor inventory availability, which when combined with intensified competition and spiralling supplier and manufacturing costs, is revenue retailers simply cannot afford to leave on the table.”

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