Coronavirus Wholesaler Hub: Retailer Questions & Opinions

We are currently in the middle of one of the strangest periods in history. The impact of Covid-19 is totally unprecedented, with the wholesale industry now having a huge role to play in helping the country run as normal.
But what do the retail customers of wholesalers think about the channel’s response to the pandemic and what questions do they have? Journalists at our sister title betterRetailing have been hard at work finding out.
Please continue to check out this page for retailer opinions and questions to wholesalers:

Trending issues

1. Availability – Although the initial panic buying has subsided, getting hold of certain items such as flour is still proving to be an issue for retailers.

2.  Communication – Retailers would like to know about information before they travel through communication avenues such as trade press, websites or WhatsApp groups.

3.  Transparency – If there are any supply issues then retailers want to be updated straight away. They appreciate the current situation but need to make contingency plans.

4. Safety – Despite rules being implemented in depot, certain retailers aren’t following them and putting others at risk. Wholesalers should be clamping down on this.

5. Alcohol – This category is experiencing unprecendented growth, so how can wholesalers support retailers to make the most of it?

“Our main concern has been availability. Although toilet roll, pasta and canned goods are slowly returning, we’re still having trouble getting flour in for our customers.”
“It seems we’ve been completely left in the dark with a lot of decisions and we often don’t know about new restrictions until we arrive at the depot. For example, alcohol and soft drinks now have buying restrictions in place and we simply don’t know the reasoning behind it. It seems that as soon as one problem is resolved, another comes along.”
“Wholesalers can help by simply keeping retailers up to date. If there’s an issue with supplying soft drinks, tell us why there is an issue so we can adapt accordingly. Retailers appreciate transparency, so if there’s a shortage just let us know – keep us in the loop.”
“Suppliers can let us know if there is a problem, let them know to contact us. They can do this by alerting trade press, through an online hub as we all look on their sites daily. Additionally, most retailers have WhatsApp groups, or even an email chain would help so we receive the information sooner rather than later.”
 “Our single-serve soft drink sales are down 30%, but my overall sales are up 60%. I’m seeing more shoppers buy more larger, take-home packs. How can wholesalers help me cater for this?”
“For us, availability is a problem. Alcohol seems hard to come by, with multipacks of Strongbow and Magners impossible to come by. Some wholesalers don’t seem to have an issue, so not sure what’s really going on. Twenty-seven per cent of my total sales at the moment come from alcohol, when it’s usually 10%. Flour is still an issue, but availability is improving on tinned veg and pasta.”
“It would be great to know what grants and interest-free loans are available to independent retailers, and what’s the criteria to be eligible. I’ve applied for them, but other retailers aren’t aware these are available, so provide links to the loans as well.”
“With wholesalers, they need to product. I want the information before I travel, and for wholesalers to be transparent about everything. If they’re short on a product – are they likely to get it in? Are suppliers telling them about delays?”
 “Usually, I do one cash and carry visit a week, but I’m doing four now. They’ve got stickers and screens in place to ensure retailers are safe and it’s noticeable they are following guidelines. However, some retailers aren’t distancing themselves when passing others in the aisles and you can’t really control that.”
“I do believe that independents have been neglected in a way and multiples are getting preferred treatment which shouldn’t be the case. It’s tough for retailers and in all my years owning a business, I’ve never seen anything like it – business is booming but it’s a worrying time for us all.”
“We get most of our information from trade press and wholesalers could work more with trade press to alert readers of any shortages.”

Thank you to all of the retailers who have offered their opinion

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Paul Hill is the Editor of Better Wholesaling. He can be found on Twitter at @BW_PaulHill, or contacted via and 07960935659.


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