While the UK and other countries have experienced panic buying of essentials during lockdown, the start of a “revenge spending” cycle, where recently isolated consumers starved of stores have a decadent shopping spree, will be unleashed after the pandemic, says a Yorkshire supply chain expert.
Businesses need to have "disaster management" plans in place, said Dr Liz Breen, an expert on the mechanics of supply and demand from the University of Bradford.
She said: "What we saw in parts of China was, once lockdown was lifted, people began flocking into the city to spend money very quickly.
"It is known as revenge buying and it will happen here too.
“From a human point of view, the sentiment being expressed is something like ‘This virus has kept me in lockdown for so long, so now I’m going to enjoy myself.’
“Similarly, when lockdown ends here, if it’s nice weather, a lot of people will be more sociable, heading for restaurants and outdoor facilities.
"Service supply chains will have to prepare for and respond to this."
The researcher aims to create a ‘go to’ reference point for what’s going on, how issues have been tackled and then learning from it.
“Our goal is to gain insight into trends so we can be more prepared in future...to help businesses and services be more prepared and to make informed decisions at the right times," Dr Breen said.
Dr Breen is calling on fellow academics, to aid the project, by submitting papers on the supply chain in order to learn lessons and create a bank of knowledge to help businesses prevent future breakdowns.
She said: “Papers could focus on anything from the retail sector and how supermarkets responded to adverse buying behaviour, which then created a false demand and how they in turn tried to increase capacity, to companies like Brewdog, which switched their product line from beer to hand sanitiser.”
The project may also focus on the "dark side" of supply chains, which include areas such as human trafficking and modern slavery.
Dr Breen is currently working alongside Professor Claire Hannibal from Liverpool John Moores University.
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