The independent convenience sector has taken 20% of order volumes from the multiples, according to Costcutter retail director Mike Hollis.

In an update about the coronavirus sent to the symbol group’s retailers last month, Hollis said: “At the start, the multiples had a big spike in volume, but they’re now seeing their demand slowing.

“Their on-shelf availability is better because of this, but according to the insight we’re getting, they’re 20% below in terms of volume from what they’d expect at this time of the year.

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“That 20% has shifted into the convenience sector and the convenience supply chain.”

Hollis added that total order volumes for Costcutter were 50% ahead. “Ambient order volumes are 56% ahead of where they would be at the start of March, while frozen is 191% ahead,” he said.

“That’s triple the volume we’re used to and therefore there are big capacity issues with low-temperature products.

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“A lot of [Costcutter retailers] are feeling this and we’ve issued a list of the top 100 lines to help plan what to get.”

According to Hollis, Costcutter has also faced pressures on deliveries and meeting customer demand due to staff absences. “We’re seeing 15% to 20% of the workforce not at work at any one time while they’re self-isolating, sick or have dependents they’re looking after,” he added.

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