Dalton talks Snow

Dalton Philips did a small piece on BBC Look North yesterday from the Wetherby store (presumably on his way home to York) talking about the weather conditions and how it’s affected Morrisons and the wider retail community.

He pointed to the fact that stores had already ordered and used more grit than last year and they’d not closed a single department, store or depot as they continue to trade despite the poor weather. He did point to the fact that customer numbers were slightly down due to customers not making it in from rural areas (win for the local Co-Op and possibly more woe for Asda?) but pre ordered Turkeys were up 25% from last year.

He then told an anecdote that is typical for so many staff who work in retail – the Bakery manager at their Inverurie store was snowed in at home so made the trip on foot to the store – 6 miles away. He then made his way home and did this for the next two days to keep the store and department trading. How typical is this for retail?

The answer is very typical, whilst certain factions sit eagerly looking at the weather forecast and then take great delight in the snow falling, retailers have to then adopt all manner of plan b’s to get staff, goods and more importantly customers into store especially in the ultra important trading month of December.

Not only is it typical (and by no means exclusive) for retail staff to struggle with the snow, it also presents exceptional demand for certain products such as the staple bread and milk and other items such as table salt that can see huge increases in demand which makes keeping them in stock all the more difficult with adverse road conditions and availability of drivers and depot staff.

Sainsbury’s have struggled with their depot in Langland’s Park, Scotland suffering from a lack of supplier deliveries, staff and an abundance of snow. So the supply network kicked in and this led to Haydock depot in Liverpool serving the north in an attempt to keep stores as well stocked as possible, it’s this sort of teamwork that goes unnoticed by consumers as they clog message boards complaining that Sainsbury’s had run out of Quails Eggs again.

It’s examples like the above that sadly do go unnoticed by consumers as they come to ‘expect’ the world from the retailers who have to struggle through the weather like the rest of us. We are quick to laud Royal Mail for delivering in the snow, well done to John for braving a 3 mile walk to man the phones at the local government office so perhaps we should take some time out and appreciate the efforts that our retailers make to ensure that people are kept fed, watered and entertained.

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Grocery Insight provide market insight on the UK sector with a focus on individual retailers such as Tesco. This insight is useful to various stakeholders and due to my store based focus. Insight can be delivered to suppliers to focus on growth opportunities, analysts and investors to assess the business performance and long term outlook and retailers themselves to assess best practice. 

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