/ Shopping

Product shortages: have you spotted out of stock items?

99 Flakes, garden furniture and DIY supplies are in short supply. Have stock issues and price increases impacted your shopping experiences?

What have DIY stores’ products, such as steel and timber, got in common with classic ice-cream accompaniment the Cadbury 99 Flake? Both are facing shortages due to unexpectedly strong shopper demand over the last couple of weeks.

The owner of B&Q and Screwfix, Kingfisher, has raised the alarm over shortages of raw materials and potential price surges because of the climbing popularity of DIY owing to lockdown measures, which meant many people were spending more time at home than usual.

This comes as Cadbury’s 99 Flake chocolate has faced similar problems over a surge in demand for the soft serve ice-cream treat and therefore the¬†the¬†crumbly chocolate¬†topping as well.

A spokesperson for Mondelez (which owns Cadbury’s) said it’s seen a ‘recent increase in demand for our Cadbury¬†99¬†Flake in the UK and Ireland that we had not expected.’

Has your shopping experience been affected?

The problems follow Brexit and coronavirus causing comparable difficulties when it came to buying garden furniture, pet food and plants, as Which? reported last month.

Have you noticed shortages of any of these items or any other products when shopping over the last few weeks?

Let me know your experiences in the comments.


Blame Brexit, Suez whatever but reality is we are still in a pandemic and downturn in manufacturing with increase in demand equals shortages. Have been waiting three months for large garden furniture order due now and it has been delayed another month. With much of the products being non essential then if that is all we have to worry about, ok really. Many people have been badly affected financially and in health and we are worried about chocolate flakes. Come on!

Jackie Elizabeth Underhill says:
4 June 2021

I have had difficulty getting sand and cement. Many DIY stores and builders merchants are out and don’t know when they will have their next delivery.

I ordered a Root Slayer spade way back in January ……….. it didn’t arrive until after Easter as it came via France. The company wrote and said that they were having a problem getting VAT information from customs. The item is so good that I am grateful that it arrived eventually

Ordered two garden chairs marked as ‘in stock’ mid-May, but in fact all stock had gone by the time my order was processed and no more ‘until mid-June’. Can’t fault retailer (Ocean Teak), as they apologised and offered the choice of a refund or to wait and buy at the same (very reasonable price). I chose to wait. I hope ‘mid June’ doesn’t turn into ‘mid September’, but of course that’s out of the retailer’s hands.

M HORTON says:
6 June 2021

We have had difficulties from waiting for a fridge part since January for a repair by Lec. Lec ‘s customer service we have to chase. Argos furniture we had delivered 19 April and parts were damaged,customer services were excellent in sorting this out even though stock is from Denmark. I have now got my furniture up while still waiting for Lec to sort the fridge. Argos customer care is excellent!!

I placed a small order with Ikea on 8th May. The earliest it could be delivered was 6th June. I have since had a text to say delivery will now be 17th June. No reasons given for the delay.

If’s extremely frustrating when this happens without any opportunity to agree a convenient delivery date. When the pump I ordered (see previous page) I was called to explain the delay and I had to opportunity to discuss what would be suitable.

When it arrived the packet was conspicuously marked with my instruction ‚Äď leave with any neighbour!

Terry Rushall says:
7 June 2021

Ordered a outside dining table and 4 chairs from White Stores, Delivery for 10th June 2021 paid a hefty deposit and each week for the last few weeks the delivery is slipping a few days at a time. Latest ETA was 6th July moved several days in a week. Finally read a msg on their website full of shipping related excuses, when in fact this website said in Production. REALLY…….was ordered and paid for in early March. When talking to customer care in April was told all items were at their warehouse except the table which was on the water. Once again when talking to customer care on 3rd June could not get any answers on whether it was made, on a container, already in UK and quizzed on how many containers had been shipped since March, MD’s name etc just got evasive and vague answers if any at all. Should I trust this company?

Emma says:
7 June 2021

have tried to order a (quality) dishwasher for some time (and a cooker and a hood) – appliances are in short supply everywhere. Established on line retailers have long lists of ‘out of stock’ items – orders are taken for 12-14 weeks delivery and warnings about severe delays are everywhere. John Lewis has really no stock and does not really take orders for out of stock items. The only available items are low-price low quality items coming from elsewhere than the EU. Ex-displays or currently in stock are the minority, but the only option for realistic delivery times; these are also now becoming scarce. It is not Covid, because last summer I had no problems whatsoever, it was not a very wise decision to delay purchasing some items that were not needed then.

It feels like it has been a long time since there wasn’t shortages in things! You can’t get exercise equipment for love nor money.

Supplies to the South of Ireland seem to be pretty robust so I am doing most of my hunting about for things in Lidl as their stock comes up from the south. All the big brands that are UK based seem to still be struggling with the Irish Sea border. Although, to be honest, I do wonder if it is partly they don’t want the hassle of working it all out for a relatively small market. It certainly makes buying local easier!

This article might help to explain the reasons behind why the world is experiencing shortages of just about everything.

Geoff Withers says:
9 August 2021

Been trying to buy a Treadmill from Argos, its in stock, but when I enter our Post Code , they say they cannot deliver to that Post Code! There is no way to find out why they cannot deliver except by sending a Letter. No Customer Support Number, no email address, nothing. What a way to run a Business!

Kevin says:
11 August 2021

Sainsburys used to have an online stock checker for their stores. They seem to have decommissioned it. Since they presumably still manage their store inventory, it’s a little bizarre in the current situation. They helpfully provide the following ‘explanation’:

“We’ve removed our online Stock Checker at the moment, but please be aware that our stock levels do change every day, so it’s always best to check in store for the stock of any items you’re looking for”

Nice being able to combine shopping with the excitement of a lottery, elevates it to an experience rather than a chore.

I have seen empty shelves in Sainsbury’s but not in Aldi or Lidl.