The delay in the Brexit negotiation and date has not yet removed the threat of a no deal Brexit.
For businesses and health systems, the departure from the EU could have dramatic impacts on the access to necessary products, drugs and expertise. But for customers, the direct fear concerns their day-to-day activities. It is, indeed, difficult to grasp the many sectors in which the EU membership plays a significant role. Ultimately, the typical layman doesn’t have any insight into the business world and may, therefore, fail to see how leaving the EU with a no deal Brexit could transform services that are taken for granted.
But, if there is one thing most people are aware of it’s the provenance of their food. Everybody knows their tomatoes come from Spain and mozzarella from Italy. Their wine is French. Their favourite chocolate treat is Belgian. And as the countdown to the new Brexit date is running, the British population worries about how their shops are going to tackle a no deal situation.
1. Your local grocery shop is not going to shut down
The first thing that the British public needs to understand is that even in the event of a recession – which is likely to happen in case of a no deal Brexit – businesses that sell consumer essentials are not going to shut down. Groceries tend to do well in a recession. The reason is rather apparent: We all need to eat. Consequently, it’s important to share the message: The shops are not going to disappear after October 2019. It doesn’t mean they are going to ruin their activities in the manner. They might need to adapt and adjust to the expect stockpiling and panic shopping behaviours that are inevitably going to follow the announcement of a no deal exit.
2. Panic shopping is a thing
The first reaction to a no deal announcement will be a rush of shoppers trying to secure their favourite EU-imported items before they disappear for good from the shelves. If shops are to avoid riots and violence, they are going to need to extend their opening hours and keep their staff on site to prevent any issue in the weeks following the exit from the EU. Tools such as staff rota software and automated background checks are vital to maintaining peace in the shops. Ultimately, it’s impossible to avoid fear as Brexit will be an unknown situation. The easiest way to help the population deal with emotions is to offer reassurance and information. Temporary longer opening hours will avoid break-ins and spread out the peak times until the situation calms down.
3. Will you buy the same products?
Will the shop aisles be empty after Brexit? A no deal scenario will affect imports and prices. But, food shortage might only occur if the public fails to recognise local alternatives. Over 80% of shop cheddar comes from Ireland. As the UK produces 94% of the milk it consumes, there’s no risk of local dairy shortage. Other products, such as wine and olive oil, may not be replaceable, but they can experience a price hike.
Shops will need to be prepared to tackle panic behaviours. However, sharing information about products and prices as early as possible and building a reliable team to help customers can avoid many troubles after a no deal Brexit. Remember that failure to communicate is precisely what creates fear!