With just over four months to go, retailers with stores in one of the many Olympic traffic hot spots urgently need to review their operations, or face mammoth availability and staffing hurdles.
Speaking at Sweet Charity’s Supporting Independent Retailers conference, Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) chief executive James Bielby said the Olympics would provide almost as many challenges as opportunities for retailers.
“There will be restrictions on more than 109 miles of roads and retailers need to be aware of the threats to supply. There is a huge amount of work to be done against a ticking clock,” he said.
Data showing hot spots on the road and tube networks has just been published on Transport for London’s Get Ahead of The Games website. Maps reveal a great number of road closures, banned turns and changes to parking and loading between July 27 and September 9.
Maintaining availability will be one of the biggest challenges for retailers, closely followed by cash handling and staffing.
The website has a number of tips to help retailers maintain availability, including pre-ordering and stockpiling ambient goods, collaborating with neighbouring stores to receive combined deliveries, changing staff shift patterns and having overnight deliveries.
Road closures and traffic could also hinder emergency repairs to chillers and other equipment, a fact which is prompting some supermarkets to stockpile parts and keep engineers on site.
Road closures and congestion will also affect cash-in-transit services. A 30% rise in cash usage is expected over the period. “The risk of not being able to directly access customer sites is significant,” Loomis managing director Ashley Bailey told Convenience Store.
Loomis has a range of solutions, including increased indemnities, short-term safe provision and foreign currency services.