Which stationary retailers are struggling with delivery bottlenecks?

Stefanie Diemand

Editor in business.

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The short answer: almost all of them.

Important ports are paralyzed due to the Corona crisis, deliveries are postponed, containers are rare and cost more, raw materials are missing and are becoming more expensive - all this and more has long been a burden for local traders.

Because if consumer goods cannot be produced and delivered in the first place, the retailer cannot sell them either.

"The procurement problems from industry have now also reached retailers," says Klaus Wohlrabe from the Ifo Institute.

A survey by the institute shows that around 74 percent of German retailers complained about delivery problems and bottlenecks in certain product groups.

Are there any industries that are particularly affected?

Faltering logistics chains and missing components have reached the majority of retailers;

However, the focus is often on the industries in which electronic components are installed.

According to the Ifo Institute survey, delivery bottlenecks are most common in the bicycle and hardware store sectors, closely followed by consumer electronics.

“The grocery trade is at the lower end of our survey,” says Wohlrabe.

But even in the food industry, almost every second respondent stated that they were affected by delivery problems.

Why are there delivery problems at all in industries such as the bicycle trade?

The market for bicycles presents challenges that also apply to many other industries: According to the Association of German Two-Wheeler Trade (VDZ), the need in bicycle shops is great.

"Some dealers are still waiting for up to 40 percent of the bikes that they ordered last year," it says.

The industry association expects that the situation for retailers will not normalize until 2024.

"A bicycle is made up of a lot of individual parts," says the Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (ZIV).

If only one thing is missing, the entire production will be delayed.

Frames and forks are actually only manufactured in Asia; there is no longer any European production.

And what about the hardware stores?

During the Corona crisis, many people wanted to redesign their own four walls.

The hardware store was also able to benefit from this.

"Especially during the pandemic it has been shown that many people find DIY, occupation with their own apartment and garden as comforting and encouraging," says Peter Würst from the trade association for DIY, building and gardening (BHB).

However, due to the delivery bottlenecks, many a “do-it-yourself” project may have to wait.

“A whole range of products are affected by shortages due to more difficult delivery and production conditions for DIY megastores with garden centers,” says Würst.

Metals such as copper and steel, in particular, but also building materials and numerous plastics are currently available in significantly smaller quantities.

Does the semiconductor crisis also affect retailers?

The challenges posed by delivery bottlenecks in the automotive industry were particularly evident.

But the semiconductor crisis has of course also reached other industries.

“Even the toaster will go online at some point,” says Wohlrabe.

Wherever sensors and electronics are involved, customers should expect particularly long waiting times.

It doesn't matter whether it's the washing machine or the electronic toy.

Do customers have to expect empty shelves in the supermarket?

Indeed, empty supermarket shelves are not new since the pandemic. At the moment, however, grocers do not anticipate that there will be gaps in the supply of everyday goods. But whether every customer will always find the product they want is questionable: If you want to see the practical effects of delivery bottlenecks in the discounter, you just have to leaf through one of the online brochures. “Delayed delivery, available soon”, for example, is written in capital letters at Aldi Süd under an offer for children's pajamas; it is not the only product in the weekly prospectus that has been delayed. Aldi-Nord even had to postpone the start of sales of its own limited fashion collection at some locations."Short-term temporal postponements or partial failures in the offer" are unfortunately not excluded at the moment, according to the discounter on request. The competitor Lidl also says that there may still be delivery delays in the “non-food range”.

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