British retailers should seek to urge their shopper base to start planning for Christmas now, as supply chain challenges in the country threaten to derail the holiday season, an industry analyst has suggested.
According to Andy Halliwell, senior director, retail at Publicis Sapient, as the list of categories and products affected by supply chain issues rises, businesses need to start thinking about ways to conserve Christmas promptly.
Low Stock Levels
"It’s said that stock levels at the major retailers are currently at their lowest levels since at least the 1980s, caused by many factors such as the HGV driver shortage and further worker shortages due to Brexit and the pandemic – all exaggerated by an increased demand for goods," Halliwell said.
"There is also growing concern that the prevalence of worker and material shortage could threaten the UK’s economic recovery. How can retailers cope with this? Retailers need to be thinking now, not later, about getting people to reserve Christmas items in advance, getting consumers to plan ahead rather than impulse buy later in the year."
Halliwell suggested that predictive analytics and control towers could be utilised, to help notify retailers of problems earlier, enabling them to plan and react more effectively.
"In addition, retailers can run simulations using digital twins to identify what products are at risk of causing order issues," he said.
Tackling The Issue
In August, Logistics UK and British Retail Consortium (BRC) wrote to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to outline three steps the government can take to overcome the supply chain crisis.
While the retail and logistics industries are taking proactive measures to address the driver shortage challenge – including increasing pay rates, offering bonuses, and implementing internal training schemes – the government needs to 'take immediate action to support supply chains', they said.
They have called for an increase in DVSA testing capabilities, to enable the agency to process the backlog of driver tests placed on hold during the pandemic; the granting of temporary work visas to HGV drivers from the EU (something the UK government has since rejected); and improvements in skills and training schemes.