We have all heard the response – “it’s a demand problem, not a supply problem”. That may well have been the case, however, the team at SupermarketNews have been speaking to suppliers and more and more suppliers have told us that they are experiencing a supply chain squeeze, the uncontrolled sale of items in supermarkets is putting more pressure on the supply chain.
Unless suppliers upped their orders weeks or months ago there is going to be a squeeze while they wait for deliveries of either ingredients, packaging or product. In some cases, they are unable to get more due to the Coronavirus impacting production in the source country. Consumers are not responding to the “don’t panic buy” message, which they see as being false because they are seeing empty shelves in their supermarkets and in our closest neighbour Australia. Social media has been at the forefront of the panic as consumers react to seeing empty shelves. If the shelves were stocked the social media frenzy would die down. In the past when there was out of stocks, fillers were used and while we appreciate that store staff are overwhelmed perhaps its time to take a breather and reset the store. There are temp staff available through various agencies and supermarkets are recruiting.
Retailers and suppliers are struggling to get in front of the next category push that consumers will direct their panic buy towards. Those retailers that have not put limits per customer have a moral obligation now to do so. This is a time to put aside the ability to sell everything in-store because you can and to pace those sales over the coming weeks. With suppliers quoting increases in sales in the hundreds of percent, it’s time to take a cooler approach to this heated market.
Retailers were behind in reacting to the toilet paper and hand sanitiser rush, now they are behind in the rush for bread, pasta, rice, flour, potatoes and tinned goods. Only some stores have a limit per customer but perhaps it is now time to temporarily restrict all products across all categories while the heat goes out of the market.
It was heartbreaking to see a young mum in a supermarket burst into tears because there was no formula or nappies for her newborn, yet the women in front of her had taken the entire stock. The elderly, medically vulnerable and those that don’t have the income to stockpile are disadvantaged and we all have a responsibility to help everyone through this crisis by keeping calm and forcing the consumer to shop normally.