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Crisps and painkillers in short supply on UK shelves

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·2 min read
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Empty crisp shelves are pictured at Waitrose supermarket, in Canary Wharf, London, Britain November 5, 2021. REUTERS/Victor Jack
Empty crisp shelves are pictured at Waitrose supermarket, in Canary Wharf, London, Britain November 5, 2021. REUTERS/Victor Jack

Multipacks of crisps and painkillers were among the items in short supply on UK shop shelves in the last week of November, amid factory glitches and supply chain issues. 

According to data released on Thursday by Kantar and the ONS, between 26 and 29 November 2021, 24% marked "crisps multipack" availability as "none" or "low". 

Paracetamol and Ibuprofen were also in short supply at 16% of shops. 

In the run-up to the festive season, 8% of stores had also run out of frozen turkeys after worried consumers shopped early for Christmas.

Meanwhile, those searching for a festive tipple were in luck, as shelf availability was highest for the “beer” category. Almost 70% of those surveyed recorded this item as having “high” availability.

Chart: ONS
Chart: ONS

The ONS said the proportion of businesses currently trading who reported a change or disruption to their procurements from within the UK has remained broadly stable from early July 2021 to November 2021. 

In the past month, 17% of businesses reported they were either not able to get the materials, goods or services they needed from within the UK, or had to change suppliers or find alternative solutions to do so.

Read more: Global supply crunch pushes long-term shipping contract costs up 400%

Global supply chains have faced unprecedented challenges in recent months as an increase in online shopping, coupled with a dwindling supply of HGV drivers needed to transport the goods, hit the sector and consumers alike.

The ONS said in the week to 28 November 2021, average daily ship visits decreased by 8% from the previous week. This was also driven by adverse weather conditions during Storm Arwen. 

The stormy weather didn't deter high street shoppers, though, as retail footfall in the UK rose by 2% in the week to 27 November 2021 to 83% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019. 

Shipping officials told a committee on Wednesday that supply chain problems had come to a head in September, when ships were arriving at port both with late deliveries of garden furniture and early orders of plastic Christmas trees.

Watch: What is inflation and why is it important?

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