Blog: Shoppers face empty shelves again as Covid and Brexit bite – The London Economic

Shoppers are noticing persistent gaps on supermarket shelves with fresh fruits, vegetables and cold goods in particularly low supply, it has emerged.

Some are blaming the supply chain issues on Brexit, but others insist it is down to Covid self-isolation.

It comes as huge queues of lorries have been forming at the UK border with France on Thursday, after new Brexit rules on EU imports came into force on 1 January.

According to The Independent, some people who work in supermarkets or have family members who do said the shortages have been caused by lorries not arriving.

Photos on social media showed empty shelves across the country, from London, Hampshire and Essex to Leicester and Wales.

One courier coming back from France said it took him 11-and-a-half hours to get to London from Calais because of the queues. “I should have been making a delivery this afternoon into Heathrow,” he tweeted.

He added: “That’s now failed and it’s tomorrow now. Just as well it wasn’t urgent (it actually was) #BrexitDisaster.”

The driver said he came all the way from Poland but was told that his post-Brexit paperwork was wrong, warning that the same thing happening to other drivers means they would have to go back where they came from.

Labour shortages

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, which represents retailers, said: “Our members continue to work round the clock to ensure that shelves remain stocked, and consumers can purchase the products they need.

“Labour shortages, including HGV drivers and other critical roles, continue to challenge retailers, and while staff absences due to self-isolation are currently manageable, further rises in absence rates would be increasingly unsustainable.”

Asked how much supply chain problems are caused by worker shortages and how much by delayed lorried help up at French ports, a spokesperson for the group admitted they did not know and that they do not know how many empty shelves there are.


Peter Foster, public policy editor at the Financial Times, was among those who noticed the gaps when going shopping. He tweeted: “Realise this is old news/new normal. But went to Asda in Brighton… 6pm. Amazing shelves still like this, even allowing for recent holidays.

“Genuine question. Is it same in France or Germany?? Anyone? #supplychainmanagement #brexit”

Pro-EU campaign group European Movement UK reacted to the images shared by Foster: “More scenes of empty shelves. #BrexitIsntWorking”

Writer Roz Kay said she sent a “caustic” email to her “Brexit-voting Tory MP”. “Been like this for months round me, getting worse.

“These are food staples, not getting to the shelves.

“And no, it’s not like that in the EU: I have family in 3 member states. Zero issues.”

Other Twitter users confirmed the issues are not shared by European countries.

“Can confirm shelves are fully stocked in Lisbon. No ‘global supply chain issues’ here,” one Twitter user said.

“No shortages here in Brittany,” another added.

A third said his local supermarket in France was only missing wholemeal flour because “the entire country has been making galettes”.






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