Christmas Comes Early For Retailers As Fears About Shortages Rise

Published on

The ONS has released data on shopping in its latest survey on the social impacts of Coronavirus.

Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF

Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues

Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Fears Of Shortages Lead Shoppers To Grab Christmas Food And Presents

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown

"There are signs that shoppers have shot out of the traps earlier this year to snap up Christmas food and presents amid fears of shortages on the shelves.

One in eight adults (12%) said they have already bought or pre-ordered festive items that they would ordinarily have purchased later in the year, according to research from the ONS. The most common items purchased or ordered in advance was food (47%) and it’s hardly surprising that some shoppers are filling up their trolleys earlier than usual given the warnings from food producers that pigs in blankets and even turkeys could be in shorter supply this year.  Consumers are also concerned that the coveted presents on Christmas lists might be hard to come by, with 44% of shoppers buying early and snapping up toys in advance. The buy-early strategy to avoid disappointed faces on Christmas day is likely to accelerate over the next few weeks given warnings from retailers that some popular items may be scarce on the shelves. Sainsbury’s was the latest retailer to warn this week that its Argos operation could feel the pinch this year, as it’s having to cope with a limited supply of electronic items like tablets.

Not Scaremongering Headlines

This isn’t simply a knee jerk reaction to scaremongering headlines. Already around 4 in 10 adults have experienced some shortages of goods over the past fortnight. When buying food, around 2 in 3 shoppers (65%) reported difficulties, with the most common experience being less variety in the shops. Even more consumers said that they had not been able to buy essential food during the last two weeks, with 17% saying items were not available, compared to 16% in the previous survey period.

When there are already gaps on the shelves, it’s understandable consumers want to start shopping that bit earlier for the festive season. After Christmas was cancelled last year for so many families, it seems many are desperate to avoid a scrooge-like celebration this year so they are stocking up now, to ensure the table and tree are fully laden with treats."

About Hargreaves Lansdown

Over 1.67 million clients trust us with £138.0 billion (as at 30 September 2021), making us the UK’s number one platform for private investors. More than 98% of client activity is done through our digital channels and over 600,000 access our mobile app each month.