Why the Supply Chain Crisis is a Security Crisis Too

When essentials run dry, society becomes tense. The ongoing supply chain crisis has already led to violence at petrol stations and it is difficult to predict what goods will next disappear from our shelves.

What we can predict is that panic buying will continue to be a side effect of our gridlocked supply chain and a serious security concern. Let’s explore why panic buying happens and what can be done to prevent it turning to violence.

Why are people fighting over petrol? And what’s next?

A number of fights have broken out at petrol stations during the fuel shortage, one of which included the use of a knife and petrol station staff have suffered a high level of verbal and physical abuse. The security failings here are obvious and we urge petrol stations to take the necessary steps to protect their staff – including the deployment of security officers.

If the fuel shortage does prove to be as short-lived as the government would have us believe, such scenes will hopefully soon be a thing of the past. Regardless, the unrest at petrol stations should serve as a stark warning for businesses across the UK, many of which may find themselves on the frontlines of panic buying.

Panic buying is driven by a mix of actual shortages, viral scaremongering on social media and good old fashioned selfishness. For example, the pandemic toilet paper shortage in the UK was caused by photos shared on social media showing empty shelves in an Australian supermarket.

What should stand out from the toilet paper fiasco is how unpredictable panic buying can be. Even if a real shortage isn’t occurring, the public may come to believe that one is. The more essential or desirable the good, the more likely it is that panic buying will escalate into unrest.

Retailers will be on the frontlines of shortages

Our current supply chain crisis is going to lead to real and imagined shortages. This means that panic buying is very likely to occur again, especially in the run up to Black Friday and Christmas – shopping events that already demand an increased security presence in the stores that run them.

Customer-facing retail sites carrying essentials or desirables – such as supermarkets, electronics stores, petrol stations and so on – must have security plans in place to protect staff, stock and customers should there be shortages.

Here are five tips to prepare your retail site against a panic buying frenzy:

  1. Carry out a fresh security risk assessment that takes into account crowds of potentially aggressive customers – identify choke points, secure stock rooms, secure entrances and exits, etc.
  2. Have a plan in place to control the number of customers allowed entry at one time – your business should already have these plans ready due to COVID-19.
  3. Make preparations to limit the number of high demand items that can be purchased by a single customer – this will remove the incentive to rush and hoard stock.
  4. Update your CCTV – many retailers have not taken advantage of live-monitored IPCCTV, which can provide additional eyes for security and other staff on the ground.
  5. Contact security providers to arrange for temporary additional security guards on site – at Magenta Security, we provide flexible contracts that can scale up or down to your needs.

Of course, retailers aren’t the only businesses who will face increased risk during the supply chain crisis. Logistics companies, warehouses, construction sites and more will all face security challenges as they move and store high demand stock.

We can expect that organised criminals are already preparing to exploit the chaos of low supply, high demand and disrupted deliveries. History has shown time and time again that when the market struggles to satisfy customers, the black market will mobilise to fill the gap.

Our security consultants, teams of trained security guards and the latest in security technology can help fortify your business in these uncertain times. You may not be able to predict what tomorrow will bring but you can ensure that your staff, stock and assets are safe.


Magenta Security provide award winning security services throughout the UK. We are in the top 5% of ACS approved contractors and were the first security company in Europe to be awarded ISO 14001 for our environmental management systems.

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