Brexit: Is It All Doom and Gloom?

The debate continues, at least for another 10 weeks or so. Will a deal be struck between the UK and EU? Will we leave without a deal? Could the deadline be extended again? One thing is for sure, with parliament set to prorogue in the next few days, the uncertainty will remain right to the wire, despite the launch of the government’s ‘Get ready for Brexit’ campaign last Sunday.

There is no doubt that the prolonged Brexit process has had an impact on the industry and shoppers alike, but is it all doom and gloom? Will the industry suffer as a result of Brexit? How are consumers reacting to the uncertainty? Is there some optimism amongst all this uncertainty?

We recently spoke to 1,000 shoppers to understand their views on Brexit and how it is impacting their behaviour towards grocery shopping. Here are five stats that highlight the divide between optimism and pessimism.

61% of shoppers expect food shortages as a result of Brexit

A similar poll conducted by HIM prior to the original deadline found that only 39% of consumers were expecting food shortages. It seems that the increased possibility of a no deal and the prolonged period of uncertainty has result in shoppers become more pessimistic towards the immediate aftermath of Brexit.

Fruit and Veg is the category with the biggest concern, with 41% of consumers who believe there will be shortages expecting fresh produce to be affected. Close behind was meat with 28%, over-the-counter medicine with 25% and fish 23%.

14% of shoppers have begun stockpiling ahead of Brexit

Despite the majority of shoppers expecting there to be food shortages following Brexit, only 14% have actually started stockpiling products. In contrast, 11% of consumers stockpiled products ahead of the original Brexit deadline in March.

However, many shoppers still plan on stockpiling. 30% intend to stockpile between now and the 31st October deadline, with tinned foods (17%), frozen foods (11%) and over-the-counter medication (10%) the most popular categories.

London and the North West are the most pessimistic

26% of shoppers in London and 23% in the North West have already started stockpiling products ahead of the Brexit decision on October 31st. Furthermore, 46% of shoppers in London and 31% in the North West are planning on stockpiling products between now and the deadline in October.

Wales and the North East are the most optimistic regions

In comparison, Wales and the North East are the most optimistic regions, with just 25% and 20% of shoppers planning on stockpiling prior to the deadline. Retailers need to understand the trends in their area to appreciate the true extent of the challenge. Retailers in London and the North West have work to do to reassure shoppers around the impact of Brexit.

43% believe Brexit provides an opportunity for supermarkets to stock more British products

Suppliers and retailers that use/stock locally sourced British products have a reason to be optimistic. Shoppers want retailers to stock more locally sourced products to combat the impact of Brexit, so there is an opportunity to generate optimism amongst consumers and generate footfall by shouting about the origin of locally sourced, British products.

It is vital to point out that these are just the perceptions of shoppers and are not necessarily reflective of what will actually happen. This makes it even more important that retailers, suppliers and wholesalers work together to keep refining plans for different scenarios and keep reassuring shoppers ahead of the outcome of October 31st in order to avoid irrational consumer behaviour.