The supply chain crisis in the UK’s largest merchant shipping port is “improving”, according to a minister, despite retailers warning shoppers not to buy too early for Christmas.
It came when a major global shipping company was diverting ships from Felixstowe and to other ports in Europe, citing a container stowage in the UK.
Maersk’s decision raised concerns about delivery delays just as consumers started buying goods for Christmas.
Conservative Party co-chair Oliver Dowden insisted that the government “meet these challenges” as cargo piles up in British ports.
He told Sky News: “The situation is improving. I am confident that people will get their toys for Christmas.
“Some people buy very early on Christmas – my wife is a pretty early Christmas buyer – others buy later. I would say just buy as usual. “
However, the problem of construction congestion in the ports has led some retailers to warn of possible shortages this winter.
Gary Grant, who runs The Entertainer toy store, warned that it was difficult to make sure shelves across the country are full.
“There will never be toy shops without toys,” he said.
“There will be toy stores without all of the toys they would normally expect due to the shortage, and that’s mainly due to transportation and storage issues, not a lack of toys.”
He said he believed Barbie dolls and Paw Patrol toys were among the favorites of the kids who are most likely to run out quickly.
Robert Gliddon, owner of Gliddon’s Toy Shop in Sidmouth, Devon, urged consumers to “buy now” to avoid Christmas disappointment, fearing persistent supply chain problems would lead to higher prices and empty shelves.
He said, “It’s not just shortages – you have to face the reality of price increases, 10-15% on everything across the seas.”
He advised consumers, “When you see it, buy it and be ready to pay more before Christmas.”
Mr Gliddon said his store is currently well stocked with a high volume of orders over the past two months in anticipation of delivery problems in the run-up to Christmas when demand is greatest.
Tim Morris, Chief Executive of the UK’s Major Ports Group, told PA News Agency: “We don’t think there is any need to panic. Global supply chains are very busy, but they are pretty robust.
“There will be some fluctuation in the short term, but retailers, their suppliers, all logistics companies that work between manufacturing and distribution are going to work really hard to keep supplies moving.”
The UK ports industry has also warned that some ports are administering access to storage facilities with “short term restrictions” to alleviate congestion problems.
Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “The congestion in the port of Felixstowe is another undesirable side effect of the truck driver shortage.
“Since the cargo cannot be removed quickly enough, there is a jam in the ports that prevents new ships from docking and unloading.”
Additional reporting by PA