Wednesday 4 March 2020 11:48 am

Coronavirus: Retailers battle supply chain issues as consumers stockpile

UK retailers are battling against supply chain issues as consumers rush to stockpile due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

More than a third of UK households are worried about product shortages due to coronavirus, and one in 10 shoppers have started to stockpile.

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Almost a quarter of retailers also said that supply chain disruption is having a “significant impact” on their business, and only seven per cent said they have the flexibility to switch suppliers.

Meanwhile, 28 per cent said the outbreak had caused delays in the supply chain but they were able to manage the disruption. Around a quarter said the virus could lead to a permanent change in their business if it persists.

Online retailers could benefit from the outbreak, with 49 per cent of consumers saying they would consider buying online to avoid physical shops. However, one in two shoppers said they would avoid buying from sellers that ship products directly from China, where the virus started. 

Almost half of UK retailers have suffered a slump in sales due to coronavirus, with more anticipating a sharp drop in consumer confidence due to the outbreak, according to research by Retail Economics and law firm Squire Patton Boggs.

In total, 45 per cent of shops said the virus has had a negative impact on sales already, while 75 per cent think sales will be hit if the outbreak persists. 

Retail Economics chief executive Richard Lim said: “Retailers are battling against significant disruption to supply chains as the coronavirus has choked off production in China.

“While the impacts may not yet be apparent on shop shelves, around a third of retailers suggested that continuity of supply is currently their biggest concern.

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“Of even greater concern for other retailers is the impact on consumer confidence and the effect this will have on their behaviour.”