One thing we appear not to be short of in the UK at the moment is stories about shortages … here’s another one.
The latest data from the British Retail Consortium indicates retail prices rose by 0.4% in August, thanks largely to a 0.6% in non-food prices, with much of the blame for the increase put down to – you guessed it – a shortage of lorry drivers and the concomitant supply chain disruption.
Compared with a year earlier, however, prices were down 0.8%, compared to a 1.2% fall in July.
“There are some modest indications that rising costs are starting to filter through into product prices,” said Helen Dickinson, the BRC chief executive.
The BRC said food prices are likely to rise before the end of the year due to rising commodity prices, increased transport costs and post-Brexit bureaucratic red tape.
“Disruption has been limited so far, but in the run-up to Christmas the situation could get worse, and customers may see reduced choice and increased prices for their favourite products and presents,” Dickinson said.
The shortage of lorry drivers in the UK has led to many firms offering “golden hellos” in an attempt to recruit drivers who have a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) licence.
The shortage of lorry drivers and also agricultural workers in Britain has been blamed in part on the new Brexit visa regime introduced this year, which favours certain skills over others, leading to some people to call for the perceived skill rating of lorry drivers to be bumped up temporarily to help alleviate the shortage.
The government has rejected calls from trade bodies to ease visa restrictions to help ease the driver shortage.
Pro-Brexit newspaper the Daily Mail has gleefully pointed out, however, that mainland Europe is suffering its own shortage of HGV drivers.
Research by logistics analysts Transport Intelligence found that Germany was missing between 45,000 and 60,000 HGV drivers last year, the Mail reported, and the number is on the rise, with the International Road Transport Union warning of a 185,000 shortfall in the Fatherland by 2027.
Meanwhile, another pro-Brexit mouthpiece, Tim Martin, the chairman and founder of pubs group JD Wetherspoon (LSE:JDW) PLC, has witnessed his company apologise to customers for the chain running out of some brands of beer, such as Carling, Coors and Bud Light.
To all those who say there is no upside to Brexit, I give you Tim Martin running out of beer.
— Parody Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson_MP) September 1, 2021