In a message sent to retailers, seen by betterRetailing, Nisa outlined various confectionery and ambient products affected by “production delays” and “manufacturing issues”, alongside lines that were unavailable. Ferrero listed one Rafaello line as having production delays, with no confirmation of when availability would return. Material shortages meant two Celebrations products would be placed on allocation in September, while availability of Cadbury Xmas Puds was still to be confirmed.
Nestlé products that were unavailable until late this month included Quality Street Purple One, Giant Tubes, Quality Street Matchmakers and After Eight Cherry. Stock availability of Haribo Giant Trees has yet to be confirmed, while Bisto Turkey Gravy Granules and Lindt Milk Selection Box were listed as unavailable.
One specialist wholesaler confirmed there were potential delays on seasonal stock, while another major wholesaler said it was still too early to determine if there would be a big impact.
Wholesale expert David Gilroy said: “There are issues happening within China, delaying the export of costumes, toys and other items that are popular in convenience stores during Halloween and Christmas.”
The summer marks the period when retailers begin preparing for seasonal sales, with store owners placing preorders for Halloween and Christmas stock. However, Midlands-based Nisa retailer Bal Singh said there was a concern seasonal sales would be hampered by stock issues. He explained: “Everybody is experiencing the same problems and it’s very worrying.
“Come September, I think there’s going to be a lot of people running around for stock, so I’m already thinking about where to source items. Already, Christmas is going to be tough as it falls on a Sunday, and mid-week is better for trading. Shortages will just compound this.”
Anita Nye, of Premier Eldred Stores in Orpington, Kent, said she has been more conservative with her Christmas ordering this year. “As for Halloween, there are lots of out-of-stocks,” she added. “Because I run a party shop, too, I can use costumes left over from last year, but I don’t have all the sizes I need. If I can’t get hold of them, I’m going to have to cut back on my display.”
Dhan Amin, of One Stop Stoke Aldermoor in Coventry, added he was working with the local community to combat shortages. “I’m sure there will be lots of out-of-stocks this year, but I’m not thinking of cutting back on my displays,” he said. “I’ll be looking at an in-store display of how kinds can make their own costumes with black bags. Or I’ll team up with a local school to encourage kids to make their own. It’s doom and gloom at the moment, and I don’t want doom and gloom in my store, so I’m thinking about ways I can be creative.”
Thamesmead Londis retailer Nishi Patel urged for more communication from symbol groups on seasonal availability issues. He said: “I did my ordering in July. I’m worried about seasonal out-of-stocks, but to be honest, Christmas was a washout last year, so I concentrated my efforts on building my profits this summer.
“I’ve ordered 400 tubs of Celebrations for Christmas, for example. If I only received 100 of those, it wouldn’t be great.”
Meanwhile, wholesale experts advised that, during the seasonal periods, customers might still prefer products such as premium chocolate gift sets from local suppliers as an alternative to major brands.
Commenting on the delays, a Mars Wrigley spokesperson said: “We are currently experiencing delays on some of our SKUs and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
A Lindt spokesperson confirmed there was higher-than-expected demand for the Milk Selection Box, which it has caught up to. A Premier Foods spokesperson said: “Bisto Turkey Gravy Granules is part of our Christmas range and will be available as the countdown to the festive season begins.”
A Ferrero spokesperson said there were no availability issues across its core seasonal range. Haribo parent-company Dunhills and Mondelez declined to comment. Nestlé was approached for comment.
Read more about seasonal trends in retail