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Research note: Exploring out‐of‐stock and on‐shelf availability in non‐grocery, high street retailing

David B. Grant (Centre for Logistics Research, University of Hull, Hull, UK)
John Fernie (School of Management and Languages, Heriot‐Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 20 June 2008




On‐shelf availability (OSA) is a key challenge for all retailers. Items that are out‐of‐stock (OOS) result in customer dissatisfaction; thus OSA/OOS are important customer service issues. Customer reactions to OOS range from product substitution to seeking products elsewhere. There remains much to do to research factors and causes of OOS affecting OSA from a supply chain perspective in a non‐grocery retail context. This research note aims to report on an exploratory investigation of OSA/OOS of four non‐grocery, high street retailers.


This paper discusses the extant academic and practitioner OSA/OOS literature to develop research questions for the investigation, which was conducted through in‐depth, qualitative interviews. Although a large sample was solicited only four different retailers in the fast‐moving consumer good categories of general merchandise, electronics, books, and mobile phones agreed to participate.


Findings indicate that the four retailers are not as focused on OSA as grocery retailers and that there is lack of collaboration with suppliers. This may have a significant impact on revenues and profitability as extant studies show that 65 per cent of consumers will not purchase in a store if confronted with an OOS situation.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the low response rate only general trends across and within these four categories are reported. Notwithstanding, several important issues emerged for future research in this area and the non‐grocery arena.


Earlier work has provided insight into how supply chain issues affects OSA and OOS in grocery retailing. This paper extends that work to a non‐grocery setting, albeit on a limited basis, but provides scope for future research.



Grant, D.B. and Fernie, J. (2008), "Research note: Exploring out‐of‐stock and on‐shelf availability in non‐grocery, high street retailing", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 36 No. 8, pp. 661-672.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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