Sir; The significance of maintaining stock availability, as highlighted in recent articles on Asda and Kwik Save (The Grocer, 31 March, pp10,11) is far more complex than a simple case of missed sales with the prospect of picking up where the consumer left off on previous shopping visits.

Consumers are increasingly aware and promiscuous in their retail habits. They are quicker to switch brands and adopt new shopping habits. This applies to older demographics as much as younger groups.

Brand owners and retailers must invest in ensuring products are available and presented correctly. This is particularly important at a time when in-store category management is more complex than ever before. Investment in auditing, and, where applicable, promotional compliance, ensures the purchasing relationship that exists between consumers, brands and retailer is maintained. It also ensures the brand promises made in marketing are kept at the point of sale.

Such investment turns a situation in which a product may be missing from the basket in the long term into one in which a sale is made and consumer loyalty to the brand and retailer partnership is created and maintained.

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