Retailers could lose £192m in sales over the Christmas period due to out of stocks, new data has revealed.

The latest research conducted for Diageo by ACNielsen is likely to send shock waves through the industry as retailers and suppliers finalise their strategies for the busiest trading period of the year.

Peter Reynolds, senior client manager at ACNielsen, said: “This is a doomsday figure because it is a prediction based on the whole of November and December. However, it only needs 4% of stores to be out of stock on a major item for that period and this figure could become a reality. The trade will need to get its act together.” Paul Flanagan, Diageo’s commercial PR manager, said: “We are working closely with customers to develop joint plans at head office level to minimise out of stocks.

“At a local level, we also have a dedicated sales team helping stores.”

The figure adds weight to brewers’ concerns, reported in The Grocer last month (Sept 20, p74), that stock levels of beer are too low to cover the Christmas sales rush. Keith Hogg, managing director of Scottish Courage Brands, said: “Continuity of supply will be the hot topic this Christmas with supermarket buyers under the biggest pressure because availability is their key measure.”

Tesco insisted it was working flat out to avoid out of stocks.

The retailer’s product development manger, Helen McGinn, said: “If there is one priority across the whole business it’s availability.

“There are always situations when you are caught by surprise and the supply chain is put to the test.

“But we have done so much forward planning that we hope the figure of lost sales will be much lower for us.”
Rosie Davenport