The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has asked Britons to avoid stockpiling food and toilet roll. The warning comes ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period. On 1 January, the UK will stop trading under EU rules, with the negotiations to reach a post-Brexit trade deal ongoing.
The BRC said the uncertainty over the new trading conditions is creating a lot of anxiety among supermarket chains. Retailers are preparing for all eventualities and increasing stock of longer life food products and other household essentials. The organisation warned most disruption would be on imported fresh products. But stock on long-life items doesn't warrant anxious shoppers to buy in advance.
The UK and the EU extend negotiations
Uncertainty and anxiety are growing, as the deadline for no-deal Brexit looms closer. The UK and the EU agreed to extend the negotiations past Sunday's deadline. Both parties hope to strike a deal, but it's unclear how much progress there has been in the past few weeks.
In a joint statement, Primer Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the decision to extend was the “responsible” thing to do. Mr Johnson told the BBC, an Australian-style trade deal with the EU looks like a likely option at this point. An Australian-style deal would look a lot like no-deal exit, however.
A deal is desperately something major British business groups want to see. The BRC said a no-deal exit would increase tariffs, which would ultimately pass down to the customers. While business groups welcome the extension, the uncertainty around the situation is not a good thing for anyone.
Businesses have to prepare for all eventualities, but this can cost a lot of money. Instead of deadline extensions, companies are looking for the certainty and guidance of an actual deal.
Enough food for everyone
Retailers are hoping to avoid the anxiety rolling over to customers. The longer the negotiations drag, the more shoppers might start panicking. The situation is especially tricky as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause disruption.
During the first lockdown, retailers had to introduce limits on certain goods. Stockpiling things such as toiler roll, dried pasta and UHT milk lead to shortages across the country. Supermarkets didn’t have time to restock shelves as anxious shoppers kept buying these goods.
Supermarkets want to avoid this from happening again. Limits on certain goods are still in use in certain supermarkets. But if shoppers continue to stockpile ahead of January, shops may need to introduce further limits.