“If you see it, buy it:” Toy stores warn Christmas as freighters turn away from ports

Toy retailers warn of Christmas shortages and rising prices as UK ports boss downplayed concerns about supply chains, saying there was “no need to panic” .

Asked about suggestions that people should buy their Christmas presents now to avoid disappointment, UK Major Ports Group managing director Tim Morris told the PA news agency: “Our opinion would be that he didn’t. there is no need to panic.

“Global supply chains are very busy, but they are quite robust.

“There will be short-term fluctuations, but the retailers, their suppliers, all the logistics companies that work between manufacturing and selling will be working really, really hard to maintain supply.

“We managed it successfully last Christmas and are confident it will happen again at Christmas, and that’s what I told my kids.”

But Robert Gliddon, owner of Gliddons Toy Shop in Sidmouth, Devon, urged consumers to “buy now” to avoid Christmas disappointment, fearing that lingering supply chain problems could lead to higher prices and lower prices. empty shelves.

The price goes up

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.

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 currently a lot of toys to choose from, but like advice from other industries, it’s safe to buy early – especially if you’re buying for a Christmas or birthday present. “

Shipping giant Maersk has said it is diverting ships from UK ports due to a build-up of cargo.

It began to divert its container ships from Felixstowe, the UK’s largest commercial port, to unload elsewhere in Europe before using smaller ships to finally secure 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.

Cargo

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 he feels “Grinchy,” Mr Bannister told Times Radio: “I don’t feel particularly Grinchy, but at the same time, you know, listen up. , 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 of the goods that people want to have on 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 need to buy Christmas gifts in advance. for children. “

Conservative Party co-chair Oliver Dowden insisted the government “is solving these challenges” amid a build-up of cargo in UK ports.

He told Sky News: “There is clearly a difficult problem, however, especially with heavy truck drivers, not just here, it’s all over Europe – Poland, the United States and even China. have this challenge. That is why we have taken measures to remedy this, whether 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, Mr Dowden said: “The situation is improving. I have no doubts that people will be able to get their toys for Christmas. Some people buy very early for Christmas – my wife is a pretty early Christmas shopper – others buy later. I would say just buy like you normally do.

Challenges

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 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. “

Related: So What Next ?! Now freighters diverted from UK ports due to backlog of containers


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