We’ve revealed new research on UK supermarket stock availability of panic-bought goods during COVID-19. This comes after our initial research at the start of lockdown.

Using our network of local Shepherds who use a smartphone app to collect data, we were able to check the stock availability in 500 supermarkets across the country. View sample report.

Our research shows that while toilet paper stock was only at 3% in March, it is now up to 75% in stores across the UK. Also seeing a significant increase in stock is pasta, which jumped from 5% in March to 68% in May. Hand sanitiser still appears to be relatively low but stock has increased from 2% in March to 39% in May.

Source: Data collected by the Shepper network in 2020. Retailers included: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Lidl and Aldi.

Our research also includes new data on products that have seen an increased demand since March, such as flour, finding that while most panic-bought stock levels are at around 70%, flour is only at 29%. In response to the high demand for flour, 24% of supermarkets are now using flour from their own bakeries. Of these, the majority are Asda stores (52%). 3% of supermarkets have also placed advertising on shelves where there is no stock in response to stock availability challenges.

We were also able to compare the stock levels between supermarkets, finding that Tesco now has the highest stock availability at 71%, increasing from 21% in March. Asda now has the lowest stock availability at 57%, yet this has increased from 17% in March.

Interestingly, stock levels are on average lower in areas where there are more over 70s.

“It’s interesting to see the innovative ways in which UK supermarkets have responded to stock availability challenges during the pandemic, such as selling flour from their own bakeries. Store management is also shown to be a key element in stock levels: where they are high in one type of product, they tend to be high across most other products, suggesting an indication of store management rather than supply. Supermarkets have been agile, inventive and resilient during this challenging time, which is a testament to an industry that is over 70 years old.”

Jan Vanhoutte, Shepper co-founder

This data collection project comes 3 months after Shepper’s initial COVID-19 research into the stock level availability of panic-buying goods featured in The Grocer.

Data set

  • May data
    • 500 supermarkets across the UK audited 
    • Data collected by the Shepper network 26/05/20 – 29/05/20
    • Retailers included: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Lidl, Aldi 
  • March data
    • 632 supermarkets across the UK audited
    • Data collected by the Shepper network 14/03/20 – 22/03/20
    • Retailers included: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Lidl, Aldi 
Covid 19 Stock Availability From Shepper Research