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Is the ‘pingdemic’ leading to food and driver shortages?

todayJuly 22, 2021 4

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The age of the ‘pingdemic’ is upon us, but what does that mean for our supermarkets, businesses and transport?

Shops are urging customers to not panic buy, garden waste collections have been cancelled and public transport services are low on drivers.

As ‘Freedom Day’ came and went on July 19 and the rules were eased, many fear that a ‘pingdemic’ could lead to bedlam, due to large numbers of people being told to self-isolate through the NHS app leading to staff shortages and business closures.

Supermarkets have explained that there is no need to panic
Supermarkets have explained that there is no need to panic

Supermarkets, such as Tesco, have explained that there is no need to panic as it has plenty of food, with deliveries arriving at stores and distribution centres across the UK daily.

However, while there is plenty of food for everyone, Tesco is experiencing sporadic disruption from the industry-wide shortage of HGV drivers and an increase in colleagues self-isolating on a precautionary basis.

This, on top of increased demand, is leading to pockets of temporary low availability across a small number of products. Tesco confirmed it is actively managing this and colleagues are working hard to get shelves fully stocked.

Sainsbury’s has also assured its customers that despite self-isolating rules, there is enough food to go round.

Tesco have explained that there is no need to panic as they have plenty of food
Tesco have explained that there is no need to panic as they have plenty of food

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We are working hard to ensure customers can find what they need.

“While we might not always have the exact product a customer is looking for in every store, large quantities of products are being delivered to stores daily and our colleagues are focused on getting them onto the shelves as quickly as they can.”

The UK’s biggest supermarkets have said there is no need for customers to change their shopping habits reiterating that any gaps on the shelves were temporary as they awaited deliveries, and were occurring in pockets rather than across supply chains.

The ‘pingdemic’, the shortage of HGV drivers and the hot weather were all contributing to delivery glitches, grocers said, while stressing to consumers that panic buying would create a problem that did not exist.

Sainsbury's says it is working hard to ensure customers can find what they need
Sainsbury’s says it is working hard to ensure customers can find what they need

Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “The ongoing ‘pingdemic’ is putting increasing pressure on retailers’ ability to maintain opening hours and keep shelves stocked.

“The Government needs to act fast. Retail workers and suppliers, who have played a vital role throughout this pandemic, should be allowed to work provided they are double vaccinated or can show a negative Covid test, to ensure there is no disruption to the public’s ability to get food and other goods.

“With community cases soaring, the number of healthy retail staff having to self-isolate is rising fast, disrupting retail operations.”

Lidl explained the situation is becoming difficult due to its staff having to isolate.

A spokesman said: “Like all other retailers, the situation is becoming increasingly difficult as we have more and more colleagues having to self-isolate after being notified by the (NHS Test and Trace) system.

“Whilst this is starting to have an impact on our operations, our teams are working hard to minimise any disruption to customers.”

It isn’t only the food and shopping industry that is struggling as a result of the ‘pingdemic’.

Transport services are also facing delays and shortages of drivers.

A spokesperson for Stagecoach said: “Like many other businesses, we’re dealing with staff shortages for a variety of reasons at this time, but a big factor is colleagues needing to self-isolate as a result of being contacted through Test and Trace.

“In cases where there is an impact on our services, we are providing live updates to our customers through our app, website and our Twitter feed.”

Arriva is also doing all they can to reduce disruption.

Simon Finnie from Arriva, said: “Like other organisations we too have a number of staff who are doing the right thing and following government guidelines by isolating due to being alerted by the NHS app.

“During this time we will do everything we can to minimise service disruption for our customers.”

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