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Supply chain issues UK retailers’ biggest concern in the wake of Covid-19 and Brexit

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Supply chain issues are the leading concern for UK retailers at a time when 80% feel under some form of operational pressure, a new study suggests.

Delivery software provider Scurri questioned 500 retailers across the UK on what the main challenges of Brexit were, one year on, and on how they are recovering from supply chain issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic. In all, 80% said they were experiencing some kind of challenge in their operations – with only 20% saying they had no main challenges at the moment.

Just over half (54%) said they were still to recover from supply issues related to Covid-19, while 46% said they had fully recovered. Asked about the three most notable challenges they had experienced in the wake of Brexit, 41% – the largest group – said supply chain issues were a major cause for concern. A third (33%) had staffing issues and 31% import and export tariff concerns. Just over a quarter (26%) said that profits had declined because sales had dropped, and 18% cited a decline in sales. Only 22% said they had no challenges following Brexit.

Asked about the current situation, 42% say that supply chain issues are still an issue for them, while 31% see staffing issues continuing, a further 31% have concerns about importing and 19% are concerned about falling sales and profits.

Scurri founder and chief executive Rory O’Connor says that challenges must be addressed now so that retailers can move beyond the current uncertainty. “Despite the Omicron variant and its weaker symptoms signalling good news for the entire public and retailers hopeful we may soon return to pre-Covid levels of commerce and trade, there are still several ongoing variables causing issues for the supply chain,” says Scurri founder and chief executive Rory O’Connor. “Retailers have suffered greatly in recent years due to a wide variety of uncertainties and continue to do so. Thankfully we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel when considering COVID-19 disruption, but Brexit still looks to cause havoc on the supply chain, and those in power must act immediately to better trade in and out of the UK.

“The era of predictable unpredictability is not going away. The emergence of new variants during 2022 could accentuate some of the current pressures. In this context, China’s continuing zero-Covid strategy with its tight border restrictions could create further problems. Above all, freight transportation and supply chain processes will continue to change during 2022 as more environmentally sustainable practices are adopted.”

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