Britons have spent over £4.6 billion stockpiling household goods in preparation for a hard Brexit, according to new research.
A survey carried out by finance provider Premium Credit shows that 17% of the country has started hoarding food, drink and medicine – with about 2.4 million people having spent more than £500 stockpiling.
A further 6.1 million have spent up to £500 while one in five, or 19%, have spent over £1,000 on hoarding.
Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union in less than two weeks, but with Parliament in a deadlock over Brexit, the country is at acute risk of crashing out without a deal, causing havoc to supply chains.
Of those stockpiling, 80% of people surveyed said they have done this with food, 63% with medicine and 43% with drinks.
Brexit-related stockpiling is also hitting cashflow, according to Premium Credit, which is increasing pressure on businesses and households to rely more on credit to make purchases.
Premium Credit found that firms and individuals are bolstering reserves in the event of Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal.
One in five surveyed said their employers are stockpiling inventory due to concerns about a “bad Brexit” and 4% expect their employers to start building up stock in the next few weeks.
Premium Credit said stockpiling means people and firms will burn through cash faster, and may start to rely more on credit to buy goods.
The research, which was carried out more than 1,000 people, found that stockpiling was affecting firms’ expansion, recruitment and advertising plans – while 64% of those surveyed claimed to have lost out on pay rises because of it.
Adam Morghem, strategy and marketing director at Premium Credit, said: “There are a lot of concerns regarding a bad Brexit, and our research reveals the extent to which both businesses and individuals are stockpiling as a result of this. The implications are much wider than many may suspect.
“From creating cashflow problems, to under insurance of stockpiled goods to curbing a business’ plans for expansion. Our findings also suggest that many people may also be missing out on promotions and pay rises as a result of Brexit related stockpiling.
“With cashflow being adversely affected, it puts pressure on businesses and individuals to rely more on credit to buy the goods and services they need.”
The research comes after Morrisons said customers have begun to stockpile toilet roll and medicine, and that the supermarket chain, along with Tesco and Mark & Spencer, has also increased inventory of certain products.
Homeware retailer Dunelm, Pets At Home and drug makers Sanofi and Novartis have also revealed plans to shore up supplies ahead of Brexit.