Some supermarket shelves in Watford have been left emptied as businesses continue to suffer from a shortage of lorry drivers.

Supermarkets across the UK have faced supply shortages due to a national lack of lorry drivers caused by healthy workers receiving self-isolation pings and the impact of Brexit.

In recent weeks, shoppers have become accustomed to the sight of empty shelves for certain products - and shoppers have been left having to sacrifice their routine shopping list.

The UK Government has been urged to take action to tackle the HGV driver shortage, the industry experts warning that shortages could get worse at Christmas time.

What is the situation in Watford?

It won’t be a surprise to readers to hear that shelves have been cleared out in certain aisles at certain supermarkets.

But weeks after the issue began to arise, the Watford Observer can confirm that Sainsbury’s stores in Watford were worse hit than some other stores.


These signs were placed at many aisles in Sainsburys

These signs were placed at many aisles in Sainsbury's


Both the Sainsbury’s by the town centre and the one by the Dome Roundabout, had various signs at differing aisles warning that some products are “temporarily unavailable”.

The notice read: “We’re working to get them back onto shelves, but in the meantime please shop for alternatives. Thank you.”

Much of both stores were fully stocked, but certain products such as water bottles, soft drinks and frozen vegetables were notably empty.


Water bottles were low in Asda

Water bottles were low in Asda


There also appeared to be a lack of some toilet roll brands, but unlike the ‘panic buying’ era during the first Covd wave, other brand choices were easily accessible.

Some items including biscuits, milk and pet items were also lacking in supplies.

Shoppers during the visit did not seem to be overwhelmingly annoyed, with one shopper stating it was “inconvenient” but “manageable”.


Other types of drinks were also low

Other types of drinks were also low


In the Asda store at St Albans Road, there seemed to be less of a supply issue.

Most shelves were fully stocked, and there were only the odd few items that were limited.

Again, bottled water seemed to be mainly affected, along with some frozen vegetables and soft drinks.


Many toilet roll brands were missing

Many toilet roll brands were missing


However it was much easier to do a normal shop at the Asda store than Sainsbury’s.

Shortage could get worse

According to Shane Brennan, the chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, shortages could get worse at Christmas time.

"It's been obscured by the pingdemic but that was the superficial problem rather than the ongoing problem - that we are chronically short of the drivers we need at every stage of the supply chain,” he told The Guardian.

"We've seen a massive exodus of non-UK labour during the pandemic and we don't know if they are able to come back.”


Pet items were also emptied

Pet items were also emptied


Meanwhile the chief executive of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, James Bielby, said problems sourcing aluminium would mean soft drinks and beer could become scarce on shelves, while a shortage of EU workers in agriculture will affect availability of fresh produce.

He warned: "It's going to get worse before it gets better.

"Structural challenges remain and they'll remain as long as there's no intervention from government.”

Supermarkets say there has been only "minor disruption" to the UK's supply chains.

At the same time Andrew Opie, the British Retail Consortium's director of food and sustainability, has called for the Government to rapidly increase the number of HGV driving tests and provide more visas for EU drivers.

Some companies, including Tesco, are now offering financial incentives to get more HGV drivers on the roads. But the Road Haulage Association said the eal challenge is in recruiting and training new drivers.