Nearly nine million people, representing one in six adults in Britain, have been unable to purchase essential food items in the past two weeks because they were not available, study finds official.
According to an Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey, 17% of adults were unable to purchase some of the groceries they needed between September 22 and October 3, reflecting the widespread impact of the disruptions supply chain and labor shortages.
Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) told the ONS that they were unable to purchase other essential non-food items.
Meanwhile, 15% said they were unable to purchase fuel for their vehicle during the fortnight, which covered the acute phase of the fuel supply crisis during which forecourt courts dried up. while motorists lined up for long periods to refuel their cars.
The data, based on a representative sample to reflect just over 52 million adults in Britain, showed the widespread impact of empty supermarket shelves.
Grocery shortages appear to have been felt most strongly in the northeast and eastern Midlands, where a fifth of adults (21%) told the ONS they had not been. able to purchase the items they needed.
Almost two-thirds of consumers surveyed (61%) said they noticed differences in stores compared to usual, including seeing less variety on the shelves than they expected, or not being able to find replacement for out-of-stock items.
Supply shortages have also affected the availability of drugs or prescriptions, with almost a quarter (23%) of adults reporting differences from normal, including people having to wait longer to receive their items on arrangement.
The figures recently released by the ONS follow weeks of reports of supermarket shelf gaps and forecourt closures due to lack of fuel, and warnings about the Christmas impact of the chain disruption. supply and a shortage of workers.
In response, the government said on Friday it had appointed Sir David Lewis, the former chief executive of Tesco, to be its supply chain adviser. Downing Street said Lewis would advise the Prime Minister on immediate improvements to UK merchandise supply chains, while also suggesting any necessary long-term changes. Lewis will work with those responsible to resolve acute, short-term issues quickly.
The supply chain and logistics industry has said for some time that pressures on food and merchandise delivery are only expected to increase as Christmas approaches, which is the busiest time in the world. year for retailers and many other businesses.