Christmas will be 'incredibly challenging' for shops – but it's too early to predict shortages, expert says

Supermarkets struggle to “maximize” the holiday season in order to “maximize” the “incredibly challenging” season to come.

Andrew Opie, director of the British Retail Consortium for Food and Sustainability, said that no widespread empty shelves are expected at the moment, but the supply chain is currently “at full capacity”.

“If we see any kind of disruption it will affect consumers,” he told the UK Trade & Business Commission, a group of MPs and business representatives.

He said it is not too late for the government to take steps to ensure there are no problems over Christmas.

Alex Veitch from Logistics UK said the shortage of truck drivers had turned into an “acute shortage” for several years.

“It really has to do with Covid to a very large extent and to a lesser extent Brexit, on top of the long-term chronic problem of not enough people entering the sector,” he said.

According to the Road Haulage Association, the UK is missing more than 100,000 drivers.

Around 30,000 driving tests for trucks did not take place in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Companies have cited a variety of causes for the supply chain issues they have faced in the past few months.

Nando’s had to close some of its stores for several days, while McDonald’s also ran out of milkshakes for a short time.

Coca-Cola has reported a shortage of aluminum cans and Barratt Developments said material costs have increased due to shortages.

Mr Opie told the Commission that “Christmas will be incredibly challenging in some areas” but added that it was “too early to predict that we will have problems”.

“Our members we’re speaking to don’t expect any major problems for Christmas right now,” he said.

“But they also say it’s so challenging right now that it’s really difficult to stay afloat and to maximize the critical time before Christmas, which is crucial for many businesses.

“So we are not saying that we are expecting major problems at Christmas, but I can only tell you where we are now and if we see problems it will affect the products.” on the shelf.”

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