Cadbury bars, monster drinks and Haribo shortages hit small shops


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A beleaguered store owner in Birmingham said independent stores like his were being forgotten as the country focused on ‘supermarket shortages’.

Images of empty shelves linked to a shortage of truck drivers, which has also spilled over to fuel shortages following panic buying in recent weeks, only tells half the story according to Pete Harding, owner of the Sutton Coldfield store.

The trader, who has owned College News in Sutton’s High Street for 11 years, says small independents like his are ‘being ignored’ as he desperately searches for cash and hauls inventory to serve his returning customers, after 18 years. difficult months during the Covid pandemic.

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But he and his business partner now have to scour the area’s money for sought-after Cadbury merchandise, Monster drinks and Haribo candy – the sugary treats fueling the city’s student body at nearby Sutton Coldfield College.

As shortages like Asda, Tesco and Morrisons grab headlines, Pete calls for more help for stores like his that appear to be at the bottom of the order chain when it comes to key products.

He said: “It has been going on for three or four weeks. It’s just getting harder and harder.

“Our bestsellers are more and more difficult to obtain. Monster drink, Cadbury bars and £ 1 bags and Haribo bags, we can’t get what we need. Also Lucozade and Red Bull.

“Most of these products are purchased by college students. But there are also companies. When schools and colleges were closed, we opened until we got a good chunk of business as well. “

Pete Harding struggles to secure key bestsellers including Cadbury bars, Monster drinks, and Haribo candy popular with students at nearby Sutton Coldfield College.

But now the problem is finding the stock to sell to returning customers. Whereas they used to go to two cash and carry, once a week.

Now they have to increase to five a day to find inventory, with these wholesalers limiting the number of boxes of popular products that can be purchased at one time.

The 60-year-old who opens College News Monday through Friday said: “We go to East End in Smethwick, Best Way in Oldbury, Hyperama in West Brom, Barry Lewis in Oldbury, Bookers in Saltley and Dhamecha in Smethwick.

“We live in Great Barr so it’s easier to get there.

“Where we used to go twice a week, now we have to go four times a week. It’s more time and money.

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He continued, “My brother-in-law Ian is my business partner and he went at five on Wednesday. He even went to Bookers in Tamworth because he heard they had stock. It’s just luck.

“SRA News in Beacon Road, near my home, is struggling with the same issues. I know the green wagon [by Boots in The Parade] struggled to get some items like mushrooms

“Places like B&M can buy wholesale and do it cheaper, but we can’t.

“It hits sales. People come in and out when they can’t get what they want.

“My point is basically that they put on the news people like Asda, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s can’t get this and that ad, everybody’s out there. But they get the stock and the independents suffer.

“I think it’s due to the shortage of truck drivers and the lack of cash and transport deliveries. And the supermarkets receive them.

College News in Sutton Coldfield’s High Street struggled during the Covid pandemic and is now affected by stockouts

This supply shortage follows a difficult 18 months during the pandemic.

Pete continued, “More and more people working from home have hit us hard.

“We also suffered from the fact that not all office workers came back. For example, there is a large office around the corner which used to be Jasper’s Catering.

“And when the pandemic started, they gave everyone laptops and told them to work from home.

“Now they’re renting a small office in Lichfield. We lost a lot of business because of it. All because of this pandemic.

“We stopped having newspapers and we just put them out for those who order them. We found that we were charged more for delivering them than we did from them.

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Pete added, “We have been here for 11 years, providing good service and serving customers. Everyone is very happy that we are talking to them and helping them.

“But if I don’t have the stock, they’ll go elsewhere.”

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About Octavia A. Dorr

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