Palmer & Harvey has assured retailers that service levels will improve after store owners complained of “appalling availability” over the summer.

The wholesaler blamed “unprecedented consumer demand” resulting from the long spell of warm weather.

“We are working closely with our suppliers and customers to provide the best possible service we can during this period,” a spokesman added. “We expect normal high service levels to return promptly.”

One Costcutter retailer said availability had been 30% down across the board for a number of weeks. “Deliveries and availability have been appalling. There’s been no sign of improvement, and Costcutter haven’t communicated about it at all.”

A West Midlands retailer said he was “considering his options” because of ongoing delivery issues.

But Dean Holborn, owner of two Holborn’s stores in Surrey, said P&H had always communicated delivery problems with him. “We’ve had some issues, but we’ve always had notification from them.”

Dean blamed the problem on a shortage of delivery drivers. “Everyone we deal with is having the same problem,” he said.