Pictures show empty shelves at Chesterfield store

Pictures have emerged of empty shelves at a shop in Chesterfield.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 6:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 12:25 pm

A concerned member of the public sent the Derbyshire Times the images, which were taken at the Spar store on Ashgate Road on Monday afternoon.

The member of the public, who did not want to be named, said shop staff told him ‘it’s due to Covid’.

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Empty shelves at the Spar on Ashgate Road, Chesterfield.

A spokesperson for A F Blakemore Ltd, which operates the Spar store, said: “As with other major UK distributors we are currently navigating challenges in maintaining the supply chain to all of our retail outlet customers due to the impact of self-isolating cases following the changes in restrictions introduced by the UK Government combined with a shortage of HGV drivers.

“We are working to ensure that shoppers are able to get hold of the products they need on a daily basis.”

Nationally, pictures of empty store shelves are once again making headlines.

Coronavirus is playing a part, with thousands of workers being 'pinged' by the NHS app and told to self-isolate.

People are being urged not to panic buy.

But industry bosses believe there is a much more urgent crisis to be solved – a lack of lorry drivers.

According to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), there are as many as 100,000 vacancies for HGV drivers in the UK – before the pandemic it was around 60,000.

Reasons for the shortage, according to the RHA, include the loss of drivers from the EU following Brexit and the added bureaucracy of shipping goods to and from the UK post-Brexit, which is dissuading EU-based hauliers from coming to the UK.

At the end of July, Richard Burnett, chief executive of the RHA, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the country is ‘facing a collapse’ of the food chain.

The Road Haulage Association has estimated there is a shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers across the UK.

He said: "In the next two to three weeks we are facing a collapse of the supply chain meaning even bigger gaps on supermarket shelves.

“We already have hauliers unable to move goods on a daily basis and we’re now facing a perfect storm.”

While Government ministers have said that they are ‘concerned’ by images of empty shelves in shops across the UK, they have urged people to refrain from ‘panic buying’ because this will only worsen the situation.

The Government is also introducing measures it hopes will ease the strain on the UK’s haulage industry.

On Monday, the Government announced the NHS Covid-19 app in England is being tweaked so fewer contacts will be advised to self-isolate following a close contact with a positive case.

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