Supermarkets are facing closures and bare shelves this summer without urgent government action, industry sources have warned.
The Independent reports that grocers are being hit by a “perfect storm” of high demand, supply chain havoc and self-isolating staff.
It comes as the government revealed those “pinged” by the NHS Covid-19 app could take a PCR test instead of quarantining if they are double-jabbed.
Although the British Retail Consortium has downplayed the “minor” disruption to shops, some have expressed deeper concerns.
“There is the driver shortage and staff having to self-isolate,” a supermarket source said.
“Alongside that, with the hot weather, sales of certain items went through the roof.
“We don’t have the levels of stock in the system that we need to replenish that.”
With millions of potential holidaymakers staying in Britain over the summer, grocers have struggled to order enough stock.
Items including sparkling water and dried pasta are thought to be in particularly short supply.
Some claimed the “pingdemic”, which has seen millions given stay-at-home orders as lockdown restrictions eased, is still a major issue.
Despite self-isolation rules being relaxed this week, some supermarket workers may still need to quarantine as many are young and less likely to be double-jabbed.
Three weeks ago, it was reported that a third of 18 to 29-year-olds had not even had one jab.
“Shops will be closing unless the government lets supermarket staff take a test and get back to work if they’re negative,” another supermarket insider said.
“The government claims to be listening but they’re not hearing what we’re saying.”
Further down the supply chain, retailers are struggling to cope with a shortfall of delivery drivers.
Tesco, Waitrose and Poundland have brought in four-figure bonuses to entice workers to transport stock from their depots.
The government recently denied reports that 2000 military HGV drivers were on standby to plug gaps in Britain’s delivery network.
A British Meat Processors Association spokesperson confessed that the situation was “pretty bad”.
“It’s not just the pingdemic, that’s been another level of pain,” he continued.
“It’s an ongoing labour shortage.”
The RHA calculates that the country needs around 100,000 hauliers to avert food shortages, and has encouraged ministers to introduce a visa for European drivers.
A government spokesperson said: “The UK has a large, diverse and highly resilient food supply chain that has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges.
“We are working closely with the haulage industry to understand and address recent pressures.”