A toy store owner has warned consumers to “buy now” to avoid Christmas disappointment, fearing that lingering supply chain problems could lead to higher prices and empty shelves.
Robert Gliddon, the owner of Gliddons Toy Shop in Sidmouth Devon, said there will be shortages and price hikes this Christmas.
He said: “It’s not just shortages, you have to face the reality of price hikes, 10-15% on anything from overseas.”
He advised consumers, “If you see it, buy it and be prepared to pay more before Christmas. “
Mr Gliddon said his store is currently well stocked due to large orders over the past two months in anticipation of supply issues heading into Christmas when demand is greatest.
Shipping giant Maersk has said it is diverting ships from UK ports due to a build-up of cargo.
It started redirecting its container ships away from Felixstowe, the UK’s largest commercial port, to unload elsewhere in Europe before using smaller ships to finally get deliveries to the UK.
The UK ports industry has also warned that some ports are managing access to storage space with “short-term restrictions” in an attempt to reduce congestion problems.
Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Congestion at the Port of Felixstowe is another unwanted side effect of the shortage of truck drivers. As cargo cannot be removed quickly enough, there is a backlog of containers in ports preventing new ships from docking and unloading.
“Retailers are working closely with suppliers to alleviate issues, including finding alternative routes to bring goods into the country, but further disruption may be inevitable.
“This follows a very difficult 18 months for supply chains due to Covid and the disruption of global shipping and transportation logistics.
“Extending the temporary visa regime to increase the number of available drivers would provide a short-term solution to these problems, and the government must act quickly to avoid further disruption to consumers in the months to come.”
Doug Bannister, managing director of the port of Dover, said there was “no congestion” at Dover, adding that people could rely on the route to the port of Kent as the ferries still continue to run.
Asked about the suggestion that there will be empty shelves at Christmas and how “Grinchy” he feels, Mr Bannister told Times Radio: “I don’t feel particularly Grinchy, but at the same time you know , listen, Felixstowe, London Gateway, Southampton, these big container ports, for the goods coming on the long supply routes, on these big ships from Asia, India and the Middle East, they supply a lot goods that people want to have at Christmas. ”
He said he expects European products to be on the shelves for Christmas, adding: “So I don’t feel particularly cranky knowing our company, but I wonder, you know, if my wife has to pre-purchase Christmas gifts in advance. for children. “
Conservative Party co-chair Oliver Dowden insisted the government was “working on these challenges” amid a build-up of cargo at UK ports.
He told Sky News: “There is clearly a difficult problem, however, especially with heavy truck drivers, not just here but across Europe. Poland, the United States and even China have this challenge, which is why we have taken measures to meet it, for example with training, 5,000 additional places for the training of heavy truck drivers, which makes the process more flexible. We are working on these challenges to meet them.
Asked about potential Christmas shortages, he said: “The situation is improving, I am confident that people will be able to get their toys for Christmas. Some people buy very early for Christmas, my wife buys quite early for Christmas, others buy later. I would say just buy like you normally do.
When asked if Santa Claus would be coming, Mr Dowden replied, “Yes, I have children of my own and they can be (comfortable) on this front.”
Alex Hersham, CEO and co-founder of London-based digital freight forwarding company Zencargo, which assists Vivienne Westwood, Swoon Furniture and Soho Home, said: “Some containers stayed at the Port of Felixstowe for double the length. usual. time – between 10 and 20 days – pushing the port towards capacity.
“With Felixstowe handling almost 40% of all containers to and from the UK, this adds even more imbalance to the UK supply chain, especially in the current peak consumption period that we are entering before Xmas.
“Businesses need supply chain visibility more than ever. Knowing where goods are currently located, where they will be and when will help businesses plan for disruptions and deal with long delays. It is essential that retailers and consumers prepare for a prolonged supply chain disruption and plan for what will be a Christmas heavily impacted by these issues. “
Sites elsewhere in the world also experienced significant delays.
Retailers have highlighted particular issues in China and East Asia, where pandemic restrictions and poor weather have affected shipping.
A spokesperson for the British Toy & Hobby Association said: ‘No one wants to face shortages for the things they need or are looking for, but we are currently facing shortages in one form or another. .
“The toy industry is not alone in facing huge global and local sourcing challenges today.
“A combination of limited transportation options and availability and higher transportation costs faces our industry as it does many others. We understand that people are concerned about shortages and this is a concern we share – we expect continued disruption of delivery schedules to varying degrees over the coming months.
“Toymakers are working around the clock to deal with this unwanted vortex of logistical challenges to try to ensure their toys arrive and offer the range of choices that consumers look for every fall / winter and that businesses want to offer. “
He added: “There are a lot of toys to choose from right now, but in common with advice from other industries, buying early – especially if buying for a Christmas or birthday present – is prudent.”
A spokesperson for Associated British Ports (ABP), which manages and operates 21 ports in Britain, said: “ABP is aware of the challenges some UK ports are facing; However, ABP’s significant investment in infrastructure, people, equipment and technology means that we are well positioned to handle today’s challenges.
“Our teams at all sites are working hard with our customers and other supply chain partners, and we can confirm that ABP’s 21 ports are currently operating without any delays or disruptions in service. “