Procurement and supply management professionals have a unique and important view, and control over how to mitigate impact on supply chains and build stronger networks. As guardians and suppressors of panic within their own organisations they have a great opportunity to implement not just best practice but sustaining the future of their business. Throughout the Brexit process CIPS will be regularly gathering the view of procurement professionals and reporting on their responses.

The Brexit Storm

UK businesses fear for Christmas supplies as Brexit disruption hits

18 Sept 2019

• 14% of UK businesses fear they will struggle to break even this Christmas

• UK businesses are importing their Christmas stock earlier than usual to avoid Brexit disruption

• Over half (55%) of businesses are not ready to trade with EU under no-deal scenario

Fourteen percent of UK businesses believe it will be difficult to break even this Christmas as a result of currency instability and Brexit uncertainty, according to a survey of supply chain managers by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).

The survey of 817 UK and EU supply chain managers found that UK businesses have taken steps to protect their supply chains, with one-fifth (21%) importing their Christmas stock earlier to avoid border disruption. However, there is evidence that the risk of a no-deal is making this difficult with 9% of businesses struggling to find affordable warehouse space to store Christmas stock and the same proportion concluding that they may not be ready for Christmas at all this year as a result of Brexit.

While almost half (48%) of UK businesses have not had their Christmas preparations affected at all by Brexit, more than a fifth (21%) say that moving the deadline from March to October has made their Christmas preparations more difficult.

Dr John Glen, CIPS Economist and Visiting Fellow at the Cranfield School of Management, said:

“Festive cheer appears to be in low supply for UK businesses, with many concerned about the impact Brexit will have on their ability to survive the busy Christmas period. With only weeks to go until the Brexit deadline and still minimal clarity on the situation at the border, supply chain managers are doing all they can to ensure products and goods make it into the country in time for Christmas.

“The October Brexit deadline falls during a crucial period for many UK businesses, when they would normally be busy importing stock for the Christmas period. Mass border disruption during this time could have a catastrophic impact, and so businesses need to be provided with as much detail and support as possible to ensure they can survive the festive period and protect UK businesses, and UK consumers from an economic and miserable disaster this Christmas.”


The survey also found that thousands of UK companies are set to be turned away from the UK/EU border due to a lack of paperwork in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Just 22% of UK companies with EU suppliers have completed all four steps necessary to export to the EU in the case of a no-deal Brexit.* Worryingly this is only slightly higher than in March 2019, when 14% of companies had completed all the necessary steps to export.

Businesses could also be launched into contract negotiations with their European counterparts on the 1st of November following a no-deal. Almost two fifths (38%) of UK businesses with EU suppliers have already had ‘Brexit clauses’ added to their contracts which allow prices or other terms to be re-negotiated in the case of trade tariffs increasing.

Dr John Glen, added:

“The Government has promised to automatically distribute EORI numbers, but with the Brexit deadline just weeks away, the Government faces an uphill battle to get businesses ready in time.

“UK businesses need to be braced for impact and ready to adapt in a post-Brexit world. New trade tariffs could cause contracts to be re-negotiated and new routes found, so supply chains will need to be flexible in order to survive and flourish.”

Read the full January 2020 report:

Read the full August 2019 report:

cips 2019 brexit report

Read the full November 2018 report:

Read the full June 2018 report:

 Read the full July 2017 report:

The Brexit Storm