UK: Supermarkets urge end to panic buying as fuel crisis deepens
As the UK fuel crisis worsened, consumers rushed to the pumps to grab the remaining drops of petrol for their cars. Realising that the standstill could lead to a decline in on-shelf food stocks, they then rushed onwards to the supermarket, to stockpile essential grocery products such as milk and bread. By late afternoon yesterday (September 12) some supermarkets had no bread or morning goods left at all, and the trend continued today.However, the supermarket groups have called for calm, reassuring customers that they need not go hungry. Somerfield, the country's fifth largest food retailer, told the press: "We've got enough fuel to deliver supplies to all our stores until the weekend and we're certainly not encouraging panic buying."Most of the groups claim that, while sales are up, stocks have not been affected and it is business as usual. This is hard to believe, for most of them subscribe wholeheartedly to the principle of just-in-time. This means that, as an example, ingredients for the instore bakery arrive a matter of hours before they are used, and warehousing capacity has been trimmed at store sites. Supermarkets use centralised distribution facilities for greater efficiency - which is fine until the trucks have no petrol. Only time will tell whether the supermarkets' upbeat stance is genuine or whether it is a calculated attempt to still panic buying so that remaining food stocks last as long as possible.
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