July 24, 2021, 9:27

    Supermarket shoppers complain of ’empty shelves’ as ‘supplies start to fail’

    Supermarket shoppers complain of ’empty shelves’ as ‘supplies start to fail’

    Supermarket shoppers are complaining about empty shelves in stores as food industry leaders have warned supply chains are “starting to fail”.

    Retailers are struggling because of a lack of HGV drivers as well as staff shortages caused by the so-called “pingdemic” of workers having to self-isolate.

    Shops including Iceland also this week admitted it has been forced to close some shops due to workers being off, while M&S said it may have to reduce its shop hours.

    Complaints of empty shelves on social media have come from customers who shop at the Big Four – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – as well as discounters like Aldi and Lidl.

    However, the British Retail Consortium – the trade association for all UK retailers – is urging shoppers not to panic buy and says supermarkets are working closely with suppliers to keep shelves stocked.

    Bare shelves in a Morrisons supermarket this week
    (Image: Tim Merry)

    One shopper tweeted: “The meat aisle Tesco looking decidedly empty yesterday and this is usually British and Irish Beef.”

    Another said: “Monday I visited Asda in Hunts Cross Liverpool. Lots of empty shelves and products very thinly spread out.”

    A third tweeted: “There were quite a few empty shelves in Sainsburys Perton yesterday morning. Quite frustrating not being able to get many things on my shopping list.”

    Morrisons store pictured this week with a lack of stock
    (Image: Tim Merry)

    A fourth added: “I popped into Lidl for a few things yesterday and certain shelves were either sparse or indeed empty. It could have coincided with restocking, but I’ve noticed a lot of unavailability when doing online food shopping.”

    Another said: “How are the shelves in Aldi empty?”

    Some of the items that appear to be missing from shelves, according to pictures, including everything from fruit and vegetables, to meat and bread.

    Meanwhile, industry leaders for the meat trade body has today warned thatproduction lines are stalling as workers are forced to self-isolate.

    Fruit and veg stock at Sainsbury's shelves
    (Image: Tom Wren SWNS)

    British Meat Processors Association chief executive Nick Allen toldBBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's happening already.

    "We're starting to see that at retail level and in restaurants – everyone is struggling to get things out really."

    Mr Allen went on to claim that he isn't clear who is covered by the exemption of workers who won't need to self-isolate if they've been double-jabbed.

    Empty shelves in a Tesco store
    (Image: Tim Merry)

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week said certain “critical workers” won't have to stay home – from NHS staff to railway signallers and air traffic controllers.

    But firms will have to apply to the government for permission one by one and only a few thousand workers are expected to be included.

    The latest figures show more than 500,000 people in England and Wales were asked to isolate by the NHS app in the week up to July 1.

    Bread supplies in a Morrisons store
    (Image: Tim Merry)

    Mr Johnson urged people to stick with the rules until they change because "isolation is a vital tool of our defence" during a Prime Minister's Questions this week.

    He has suggested an exemption would cover some in hospitals and care homes, or working in the supply of food, electricity and medicines, and transport, defence and borders.

    Earlier this month, Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association (RHA), told ITV News supermarkets are "weeks away from gaps on the shelves" due to the HGV driver crisis.

    The RHA estimates there is currently a shortfall of up to 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK – with a combination of Covid, Brexit and other factors being blamed.

    The coronavirus pandemic has seen travel become extremely restricted, and haulage companies say European drivers have simply decided not to return to the UK due to Covid-19 and Brexit.

    There is also understood to be a large backlog in HGV driver tests, again because of the pandemic, meaning it's been harder to get new drivers on the road.Shoppers complain of empty supermarket shelves.

    Customers are being urged not to panic buy despite empty sights
    (Image: Tim Merry)

    Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers are aware of a fall in HGV driver numbers, resulting in minor disruption to some supply chains.

    “This has been exacerbated by the rising case numbers resulting in drivers being forced to self-isolate. Supermarkets are working closely with their suppliers to ensure that consumers still have access to the same great selection of goods.

    “Government must rapidly increase the number of HGV driving tests taking place, fill gaps by providing visas for EU HGV drivers, and also look for a longer-term solution to this issue."

    Sourse: mirror.co.uk

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