Food shortages excerbating cost of living crisis as one in five pay more for basics

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As shortages of fruit and vegetables push UK food inflation to a record 14.5 per cent, suggesting little respite for households struggling with the cost of living crisis, new data reveals that one in five (20%) British shoppers have been forced to pay more for items due to lack of availability in the past 12 months.

The data, from AI-powered supply chain management platform 7bridges, reveals just how much consumer purchasing has been impacted by product shortages. More than a fifth (22%) of UK consumers said they have been unable to get hold of items at least once a week over the past year; in the past three months, over two fifths (43%) of shoppers have experienced supply chain disruption when trying to purchase goods. When it comes to availability of items in local supermarkets, a third of shoppers pointed to basics like eggs, bananas, tomatoes and oil as the most commonly unavailable.

The lack of product availability from British supermarkets, retailers, restaurants and pharmacies due to food shortages and wider supply chain issues, is also starting to take its toll on consumer buying decisions and brand loyalty. Almost half of UK consumers (47%) believe that businesses can be doing more to prevent the level of disruption over the past few months and over one in three consumers (39%) say they are less likely to buy from brands that blame supply chain issues for product shortages.

When it comes to groceries, which have been under the supply chain and shortage spotlight recently, almost half of consumers (47%) say they wouldn’t be willing to spend extra and would go elsewhere to do their shopping. Of those willing to spend more to get the products then and there, they are willing to pay an average of 11.51% extra.

Finally, in terms of the sectors most impacted by shortages and supply chain problems, UK consumers were quick to point to supermarkets (53%), pharmaceuticals (25%) and restaurants as the most impacted. With issues impacting stock persisting for many weeks, nearly one third (31%) of consumers said they felt “frustrated” when brands continued to blame supply chain disruptions as the reason for product unavailability. Consumer sentiment is marked by disappointment, with one in five (20%) having reported feeling “let down” and 28% “inconvenienced” by brands citing supply chain issues as the cause of food shortages.

Philip Ashton, CEO and co-founder of 7bridges commented:“For brands and businesses across different sectors, it is critical that they are seen to take action, gaining better visibility and control over their supply chains to prevent empty shelves, out of stock products and customer frustration. At a time where consumers are keeping a close eye on their spending and will not hesitate to go elsewhere if they aren’t getting the experience they expect, brands need to work hard to ensure they aren’t faced with out-of-stock items or continually having to cite their supply chain as the reason for disruption. The processes and technology exists to mitigate and manage disruption, and consumers aren’t blind to that fact – inaction that leads to future disruption will not go unchecked, so brands must smarten up now. Leveraging technology that facilitates outcome-driven supply chains will put businesses in a strong position to make data-driven decisions more quickly to prevent shortages and nurture customer loyalty.”