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Frozen turkeys flying out of the deep freeze as consumers worry about product supplies

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Frozen turkeys flying out of the deep freeze as consumers worry about product supplies

Susannah Streeter

The ONS has released data on product shortages and consumer spending patterns.

Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown.

‘’It seems Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without turkey on the table, as the birds are flying out of the deep freeze, faster than supermarkets can stock up again. The latest snapshot of our shopping habits from the ONS shows that the meat was the item most often recorded as being in short supply in supermarkets up and down the UK over the last week.

As concerns mounted that meat processing plants were facing a shortage of workers, consumers have taken warnings to heart about the potential for a big gap on the festive menu, and many have been stocking up many weeks before the big day.  Researchers from Kantar assessing shelf availability of products found that 18% of frozen turkeys either weren’t available or stock was low, although supplies appeared to have increased a little compared to the previous week.

There has been a lack of supply of sparkling water as well, with some supermarkets clearly finding it hard to replace bottles on the shelves, given the fall in production of carbonated drinks due to the shortage of carbon dioxide. 17% of sparkling water stocks were marked as low or not available in the survey.

There also appears to have been a run on ibuprofen and paracetamol as winter viruses take hold amid the ongoing Covid pandemic. The drugs were also in shorter supply on supermarket shelves, as shoppers stocked up on pain relief, with more ibuprofen in particular marked as low compared to the previous week.

There is growing evidence that shoppers have been splashing more cash in the run up to Christmas not just on staples like food but also on delayable purchases like clothing. There was increase in spending across all areas, last week according the Bank of England CHAPS data. Credit and debit card purchases have ramped back up, exceeding  pre-pandemic levels of spending by 5 percentage points.

After weeks of feeling under the weather, trying to stave of the scourge of viruses, many shoppers are clearly keen to get into the festive spirit. They are ticking off the shopping lists early to ensure the celebrations aren’t marred by a lack of planning and pesky supply chain problems.’’

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