City Comment: Brexit excuses and trucker shortages will only go so far with customers

By Oscar Williams-Grut

Brexit border delays are real - but customers won’t be patient with them forever.

(Picture: PA Wire)

Like a lot of people, I moved during the pandemic to get more space.

The new digs have an office but no dinner table. We shopped around for one after moving in and settled on a Mango wood number from Made.com.

Up front, Made warns when we order in January that the table could take four months to arrive. Brexit border issues, they mumble. By April, things are “taking longer than usual”. A month later, the dispatch date gets pushed to August. By June, they’re promising September. We give up and cancel.

My experience won’t be uncommon. Made warns today of “industry wide global supply chain disruptions” causing “extended shipping times, range availability pressures and increased freight costs”. In other words, it has less stuff to sell and getting it to people is both slower and more expensive.

Shoppers aren’t bothered for now. Sales were up over 50% in the first half, boosted by hybrid working and people like me doing up their new digs.

But companies like Made need to be wary of disruption starting to hit the bottom line. Shoppers are happy to stomach the odd delay, but talk of Brexit and driver shortages will only go so far. Availability can trump quality and savvy shoppers will go elsewhere.

Christmas will be the real test. Retail execs are already fidgety about the possibility of empty shelves and presents arriving on Boxing Day. Made insist they will be fine. Others might not be. It could be make or break for reputations. Operations chiefs who get it right deserve a big Christmas bonus.


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