Hospitality bosses in the north-east have spoken out about their frustration regarding the shortage of certain alcoholic products and what this means for the festive period.
Wine, beer and vodka are among the drinks that restaurant, bar and pub owners have found themselves falling short of in recent weeks, which may be as a result of the UK-wide shortage of lorry drivers and CO2, among other factors.
As retailers and suppliers across the economy are struggling to meet demand, hospitality businesses continue to suffer.
But how has the issue impacted them exactly? And what will be the reality come the festive season?
Jennifer McIntosh, owner of Ardennan House Hotel in Inverurie, says she has failed to receive all her stock for months, including vodka, Passoa, Chambord, wine and beer.
‘You can’t give customers what they want’
Jennifer, who runs the hotel with her husband Andy, uses Tennants, Makro and Bookers – wholesaler suppliers of food and drink.
The 52-year-old says: “You can’t give customers what they want. It makes life more stressful for us too as we have to try and search for products elsewhere.
“This is happening on a weekly occurrence. We just get told it’s out of stock or it simply doesn’t come in.”
Fountainhall Wines co-owner Steve McQueen has also been experiencing problems, including deliveries taking much longer to arrive and there being a severe lack of stock and availability of certain items.
This is something that has never happened to the 31-year-old, who runs two wine shops – based in Aberdeen and Stonehaven – alongside his dad, Jim.
Steve, from Stonehaven, said: “This week I placed a large wine and whisky order with a regular supplier of ours (some of these lines are planned items for Christmas). The delivery arrived but only 20% of what I ordered came as everything else was out of stock.
“Drivers are obviously an issue for several of our suppliers and the courier companies but it isn’t just a lack of them that are causing delays.
On some occasions, deliveries have taken seven to 10 days longer than they used to.”
Steve McQueen, co-owner of Fountainhall Wines.
“When we place orders they need to be picked by warehouse staff and we know that shortages in these warehouses have led to suppliers simply being unable to get the orders picked ready for dispatch.
“The cost of moving pallets of wine around the world has obviously rocketed and this is putting more pressure onto our supplier’s profit margins and the deals that they are able to offer us.
“However, they are being helpful by keeping us in the loop when it comes to possible issues down the line with stock or lead times for deliveries. On some occasions, deliveries have taken seven to 10 days longer than they used to.”
Repeatedly out of stock
Although Fountainhall Wines aims to always have sufficient stock levels for customers in its stores, there have been a handful of products repeatedly unavailable.
To tackle this, Steve and Jim have been forced to work hard in the background to find alternatives.
“Product shortages, issues with deliveries and concerns of possible issues further down the line because of CO2 shortages are real frustrations,” Steve continued.
“The whole industry has really been hit hard over the last two years and I really hope that people continue to support local independent shops, breweries and pubs to help them through what will be a very difficult festive period.
“Last year’s Christmas saw a number of people having far smaller celebrations than they would normally have due to the Covid restrictions. I can imagine that a number of families will actually want to make this year a special one and to make the most of the time together.
“As the salesman, I really don’t want to be disappointing anyone and we will continue to monitor our stocks weekly to try to keep the range of beers, wines and spirits that our customers expect from us.”