Supermarkets using cardboard cutouts to hide gaps left by supply issues | Supply chain crisis

Supermarkets are using cardboard cutouts of fruit, greens and different groceries to fill gaps on cabinets as a result of supply issues mixed with a shift in direction of smaller product ranges imply many shops at the moment are too massive.

Tesco has begun using footage of asparagus, carrots, oranges and grapes in its contemporary produce aisles, prompting ridicule on social media.

“Mmmm, delicious photos of asparagus,” one commenter wrote on Twitter. Another mocked an outsized image of the vegetable piled up: “I love that asparagus grows to this size in the UK. It’s our climate, I’m sure.”

Shoppers have noticed pretend carrots in Fakenham, cardboard asparagus in London, footage of oranges and grapes in Milton Keynes, and 2D washing liquid bottles in Cambridge. Sainsbury’s has additionally used define drawings of packaging to fill cabinets.

The tactic comes as shortages of HGV drivers and pickers and packers on farms and meals processing vegetation lead to low availability of some objects in supermarkets. Problems at ports, the place handlers are struggling to address a surge in deliveries for the festive season, are additionally main to shortages.

Bryan Roberts, a retail analyst at Shopfloor Insights, mentioned he had solely begun to see the cardboard cutouts of contemporary produce previously year, however mentioned comparable techniques had been in place elsewhere in supermarkets for a while. “It has become quite commonplace. It is not only because of shortages, but because a lot of the larger stores are now simply too big.”

He mentioned the cutouts had been certainly one of an array of techniques getting used to fill area, together with filling meat fridges with bottles of tomato sauce or mayonnaise, spreading packs of beer out throughout complete aisles, and erecting massive posters or different advertising materials.

Tesco, which has boasted that its gross sales have been boosted by its potential to maintain cabinets stocked, mentioned the fruit and vegetable footage weren’t linked to the latest supply chain issues and had been in use for a lot of months.

Traditional supermarkets, which might stock greater than 40,000 product traces, have been honing their grocery ranges to enhance effectivity to allow them to reduce costs and compete extra successfully with discounters corresponding to Aldi and Lidl, which promote fewer than 3,000 totally different merchandise.

That course of has solely been accelerated by Brexit and the pandemic which have led to employees shortages and difficulties in transport items. Supermarkets and producers have decreased the vary of several types of pasta, espresso or teas they promote to make it simpler to maintain items flowing.

Some cumbersome and never very worthwhile objects, corresponding to bottled fizzy drinks and water, have additionally been pushed down the supply precedence record due to driver shortages, that means there could also be bigger gaps on cabinets than standard.

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Several chains, together with Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco have additionally shut meals service counters to reduce prices, leaving more room to fill.

The rise of on-line purchasing, has in the meantime led to many supermarkets now not stocking non-food objects corresponding to televisions, CDs or kettles which they as soon as did, leaving areas of empty area which many have been unable to fill with different merchandise. Some have introduced in different companies, corresponding to opticians, key slicing or dry cleaners to take up area.

On contemporary produce, shops corresponding to Tesco even have targets to scale back meals waste, and so are retaining shares tighter than they may have carried out previously.

Cardboard cutouts of high-priced objects corresponding to detergents, protein powders and spirits corresponding to gin are additionally generally used to forestall shoplifting. Pictures of the objects are placed on cabinets to point out availability, and customers should decide up the precise product on the until.

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