A lack of HGV drivers and increase in wholesale global gas prices is a concern for businesses and energy suppliers

Pandemic panic buying risks have returned to the UK as further supply problems loom. A combination of labour shortages, new immigration rules post Brexit and the ongoing impacts of the pandemic have most recently hit the power sector.

The increase in wholesale global gas prices is a cause of concern for consumers, businesses and energy suppliers. Most recently, gas and electricity firms Avro Energy and Green Supplier Limited announced they were ceasing to trade, affecting around 255,000 customers.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ”Just when we thought the days of pandemic panic buying were over, warnings that fuel and food could run short due to supply issues, risk sparking gridlock in supermarket car parks and forecourts once again.”

BP is among those affected, warning it has had to “temporarily” close some of its petrol stations due to a lorry driver shortage.

“The HGV driver shortage is rearing its head, with reports that BP may have to restrict deliveries of petrol and diesel to its service station network in the UK… Refineries may be awash with fuel, with tankers available to take it but it seems BP can’t fill the seats in the cab to ensure it ends up at forecourts,” said Streeter.

”Worries are also mounting at agricultural firms that a severe shortage of labour will stop food getting from farms to forks. The National Farmers Union is the latest to warn that there will be gaps on the shelves at supermarkets if the government doesn’t grant emergency visas to overseas workers.

The transportation and storage industry had the lowest percentage of businesses currently trading in early September 2021, at 80%, according to the latest ONS Business insights survey.

It found that the high percentage of paused and permanently ceased traders is partly driven by the freight transport by road industry and the unlicensed carriers industry. This industry has been widely reported as experiencing a shortage of lorry drivers, it noted.

”The shortage of drivers has meant that haulage firms have simply had to cease trading because they can’t fulfil jobs, even though everyone keeps knocking at the door,” added Streeter.

<iframe height=”927px” width=”100%” src=”https://www.ons.gov.uk/visualisations/dvc1587/trade/index.html”></iframe>