Press release - 13 February 2024

UK retailers aspire for growth, but face challenges meeting increased demand

  • Wincanton survey finds that while over 8 in 10 retailers are planning for growth, more say that increased volumes would impact ability to fulfil orders 

  • Labour shortages and lack of investment in innovation seen as key hurdles 

  • 7 in 10 see managed shared warehouse space and transport network as potential solutions to problems 

UK retailers are positive about their growth prospects in the coming years, but face challenges to scale up operations to meet these ambitions, according to a new industry survey. Businesses however see the opportunity to solve some of these supply chain issues through partnering with experts capable of offering shared-user facilities and innovation. 

New research from Wincanton, a supply chain partner for British business, shows that over 8 in 10 (83%) of UK retailers are planning for order volume growth over the next three years. Following a period of difficulties for the sector due to the pandemic, Brexit and more, this demonstrates the resurgent confidence in UK retail and the strong opportunities in the sector. 

In order to achieve this there are several challenges that retailers will need to overcome however, as currently a higher proportion (89%) say that increased orders would negatively impact their ability to successfully fulfil customer orders. 

This reflects the continued challenges the sector faces, including with labour supply. 68% of respondents to the survey said that a shortage of good quality labour has negatively affected business ability to keep up with customer demand, and similar said that labour concerns negatively impact their ability to scale up during peak demand.  

Many retailers are also struggling to make the investment to modernise and implement robotics and automation innovation in their operations, with 61% of those surveyed saying that investment in this area won’t be feasible in the next five years.  

The data shows a potential solution however, demonstrating that shared-user facilities could provide a solution to help mitigate labour and investment issues. This would enable retailers to improve their supply chain flexibility and unlock their full growth potential, with 7 in 10 agreeing that outsourcing fulfilment and logistics functions would make them more agile. 

Over 7 in 10 (71%) respondents agree that having access to a managed shared warehouse space would improve their ability to cope with fluctuations in demand for customer fulfilment. A similar number (69%) agree that having access to a managed shared transport network would improve their ability to cope with fluctuations in demand. 

Carl Moore, Managing Director of eFulfilment at Wincanton, commented:  

“It’s fantastic news to hear that UK retailers are planning for growth, even against a backdrop that presents a number of challenges. Embracing more collaborative approaches to supply chains, such as shared warehousing and transport solutions, will go a long way towards making retailers more agile and able to achieve the growth they’re targeting.” 

Find out more about the challenges impacting retailers' growth, and some of the solutions they are embracing: Get full access to the insights paper now.


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