July 02 2020

‘IN THE LOOP’ - Has the UK’s Government failed Wholesaler during the Pandemic?

With all the talk of Government subsidies and aid for Businesses through these tough times, there are definitely Industries who have had far more trying times than others.
Supermarkets and larger retailers have had notably more assistance through Government loans and support, while the Wholesale Industry has cried out over the huge lack of support for the Industry.
Wholesalers were left alone to handle the impacts of stock stagnation and an almost non-existent customer base; “with some companies losing between 70-100% of their customer base.” (betterwholesaling)

Coronavirus Closures means tough times for Wholesalers

Wholesale and Stock Stagnation

The Guardian reported that around “£20m of food with a shelf life of less than three months is lying in warehouses, according to one trade group”. This was way back in March, which was merely the start of widespread closures and disruptions.
As we have seen, many Wholesalers, through necessity, juggled with direct-to-consumer models, with BidFood being one of the most prominent examples of early adopters.

A Lack of Government Support

Many have not been as fortunate as BidFood, and the widespread closure of retailers and restaurants meant orders halted almost immediately overnight, leaving Wholesalers large and small in dark, with no hand from the Government to provide some security.
Outcry from the Industry has been widespread, with Unitas Wholesale Managing Director Darrn Goldney tell the FWD;
“Meanwhile, food and drink wholesalers supplying hundreds of thousands of independent small business whose sales disappeared overnight after instructions to close, have received zero support.” (FWD)
The lack of support through these months, alongside minimal stock movement and a haulted stream of incomes has had catastrophic impacts on the Industry.

Looking forward

There is growing concern amongst Retailers about the resuming of usual services and the restrictions that will continue. Many have pointed towards lacking consumer confidence which these eased restrictions are by-passing.
After all, if Restaurants reopen but consumers are still uneasy about eating in, this will continue to contibute towards economic difficulties and uncertainty.
This in turn will continue to impact wholesale distribution and the supply of goods, with the future remaining uncertain and causing widespread anxiety about the future of trade.
Some reports suggest a permanent switch towards Grocery Delivery Services, while others suggest the need to rethink logistical implications, so Businesses are safeguarded in the future.
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References

https://www.betterwholesaling.com/coronavirus-wholesale-future/

https://www.fwd.co.uk/wholesale-news/2020/06/22/wholesalers-have-been-betrayed-goldney/

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/26/food-wholesalers-seek-help-over-unwanted-coronavirus-stockpile