Educate consumers about their effect on supply chains, expert says

Almost two thirds of UK shoppers are resigned to missing out due to shortages and delays this Christmas, a survey has found.

Queues built up at a Sainsbury’s Petrol Station in Colton, Leeds (PA)
Queues built up at a Sainsbury’s Petrol Station in Colton, Leeds (PA)

Consumers have learnt lessons from stockpiling over lockdown but more should be done to help them understand the effect they can have on supply chains, according to a sector expert.

Rick Tellez, the co-founder of supply chain logistics platform KlearNow, said most consumers wanted to do the “right thing” by maintaining normal shopping behaviour but it only took a “tiny minority” to panic and affect supply chains.

Mr Tellez called on the logistics sector and the Government to do more to educate consumers about their part in the global supply chain.

It only takes a tiny minority of consumers to panic to make it look like there’s a national crisis, which is when things begin to escalate

Rick Tellez

His comments came amid chaotic scenes at petrol station forecourts over the weekend after BP announced on Thursday evening that it was closing some pumps and rationing petrol and diesel because of a lack of lorry drivers, despite reassurances from the Government and sector experts that there was no shortage of fuel.

A survey for KlearNow last month found that 64% of UK shoppers are resigned to missing out due to shortages and delays this Christmas, but 52% said they refused to stockpile as a result of experiences during the pandemic.

Almost a third (31%) said warnings of shortages and delays would not affect their Christmas shopping plans.

Some 57% who stockpiled during lockdown said they regretted it and would not do it in future.

Of those who stockpiled for lockdown, 19% said they had products left over after restrictions were lifted and 7% still have items now.

Mr Tellez said scenes of panic buying at petrol stations were not representative of national attitudes but pointed to a lack of trust in the logistics sector.

He said: “Our research suggests that most consumers understand that stockpiling is unnecessary and lockdown taught us all some valuable lessons. But it only takes a tiny minority of consumers to panic to make it look like there’s a national crisis, which is when things begin to escalate.

“Supply chains are designed to be resilient and thanks to advancements in technology, including artificial intelligence, we are able to adapt to changing consumer needs.

“However, if consumer behaviour changes dramatically – as it did at the start of the pandemic – there will always be a bit of disruption whilst suppliers adapt. This is the moment when some people miss out.”

– 3Gem surveyed 1,000 UK adults between August 27-30.

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