More work needed to boost on-shelf availability

Related tags Cent Sainsbury's Retailing Supermarket

British retailers are widely regarded as some of the best in the
world, leading the way in areas such as own labels, loyalty cards
and retail services. But many of them are, it seems, failing to
perform to the best of their ability in one fundamental area of
their business - ensuring that products are available on their

As we reported​ last month, a new study designed to gauge the on-shelf availability of a wide range of food and non-food products in UK supermarkets is currently underway, run by the UK division of the international Efficient Consumer Response network and retail think tank, IGD.

The first quarterly findings of the survey, which covers 200 products in 12 product categories on sale in 350 outlets including Asda, the Co-operative Group, Safeway, Sainsbury's, Somerfield and Tesco, reveals that just three (own label baked beans, loose tomatoes and loose onions) had 100 per cent availability - a less than impressive first showing.

The study, which measures on-shelf availability from the consumers' viewpoint to provide a benchmark for retailers and suppliers (rather than asking the retailers and suppliers themselves), found that out of the total lines 70 per cent scored between 95 and 99 per cent, 19 per cent between 90 and 94 per cent and 11 per cent below 90 per cent - a much more satisfactory performance.

The study also looked at the overall availability performance of each retailer and found that the best performing retailer (unnamed) had 98.3 per cent availability and the worst had 91.7 per cent. From the manufacturers' perspective, the best performance was 99.7 per cent availability dropping to 88.9 per cent.

Twelve categories, ranging from beers, wine and spirits to health & beauty via fresh produce, are covered by the survey. This quarter the top three performing categories were bakery and produce, both with 98.4 per cent availability, followed by cigarettes with 97.7 per cent. The worst performing category was homeware with 87 per cent.

Chris Poole, logistics director at Procter & Gamble UK & Ireland and co-chair of ECR UK, said: "The fact that only three out of 200 lines had 100 per cent availability really highlights the scale of the challenge we have to deal with. The next step is for ECR UK to use the findings of this and the subsequent surveys to help the industry, work together to improve availability for our customers."

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