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Retailers should brace themselves now for post-lockdown ‘revenge buying’ says University of Bradford academic

Published: by Neil Hudson

Shoppers relax during pre-Covid times

Supply chain expert Dr Liz Breen talks about post-lockdown shopping trends we're likely to see once Covid-19 social distancing rules are relaxed

An impulse to ‘splurge’ once shops re-open is more than likely, says University of Bradford supply chain expert, as she appeals to fellow academics to contribute to journal special issue.

Supply chains have been tested to - and in some cases beyond - their limits during the current coronavirus pandemic and now one Bradford researcher is calling on fellow academics to help prevent future breakdowns.

Dr Liz Breen, Reader in Health Service Operations in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Bradford, is an expert on the mechanics of supply and demand and wants to hear from others in the field.

She is guest editing a special issue in Supply Chain Management: An International Journal and is asking fellow researchers to submit papers on the supply chain in order to ‘learn lessons and create a repository of knowledge,’ which may ultimately help businesses avoid future crises.

She said: “Our goal is to gain insight into trends so we can be more prepared in future. The idea is to create a ‘go to’ reference point for what’s going on, how issues have been tackled and then learning from it.

She went on: “Papers could focus on anything from the retail sector and how supermarkets responded to adverse buying behaviour, which then created a false demand and how they in turn tried to increase capacity, to companies like Brewdog, which switched their product line from beer to hand sanitiser.”

Liz said papers could even encompass ‘the dark side’ of supply chains, which include areas such as human trafficking and modern slavery.

She added that future trends had, in some cases, already been identified through such work, not least of which is the phenomenon known as ‘revenge buying’, which has already happened in parts of China which have come out of lockdown.

“This is about ‘disaster management’ and also buying behaviours which impact on the supply chain. What we saw in parts of China was, once lockdown was lifted, people began flocking into the city to spend money very quickly. It is known as revenge buying and it will happen here too.

“From a human point of view, the sentiment being expressed is something like ‘This virus has kept me in lockdown for so long, so now I’m going to enjoy myself.’

“Similarly, when lockdown ends here, if it’s nice weather, a lot of people will be more sociable, heading for restaurants and outdoor facilities. Service supply chains will have to prepare for and respond to this. My work is to undertake research to help businesses and services be more prepared and to make informed decisions at the right times.”

Dr Breen joined the University of Bradford in 2004, working in the School of Management for 13 years, before taking up a post in the School of Pharmacy three years ago. Prior to joining the university, she worked in the NHS, redesigning the pharmaceutical supply chain in Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.

She is currently Guest Editor for a Special Issue in Supply Chain Management: An International Journal with Professor Claire Hannibal, Liverpool John Moores University. The submission deadline for papers is August 1.

All submissions must be original and may not be under review by another publication. Interested authors should submit papers. Contact Dr Liz Breen, University of Bradford at: and Professor Claire Hannibal, Liverpool John Moores University at