A toy store owner has warned consumers to ‘buy now’ to avoid Christmas disappointment, fearing lingering supply chain issues could lead to higher prices and empty shelves.
Robert Gliddon, the owner of Gliddons Toy Shop in Sidmouth, Devon, said there would be shortages and price hikes this Christmas.
He said: “It’s not just shortages, you have to deal with the reality of price increases, 10% to 15% on anything coming from overseas.”
He advised consumers: “If you see it, buy it and be prepared to pay more before Christmas.”
Mr Gliddon said his store was currently well stocked due to large orders over the past two months in anticipation of supply problems in the run up to Christmas when demand is highest.
Shipping giant Maersk said it was diverting ships from UK ports due to a backlog of cargo.
It began diverting its container ships away from Felixstowe, the UK’s largest trading port, to unload elsewhere in Europe before using smaller vessels to finally secure deliveries in the UK.
The UK port industry has also warned that some ports are managing access to storage space with “short-term restrictions” in a bid to ease congestion problems.
Andrew Opie, Food and Sustainability Director at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Congestion at the Port of Felixstowe is another unwanted side effect of the shortage of HGV drivers. As cargo cannot be removed quickly enough, there is a backlog of containers at ports which prevents new ships from docking and unloading.
“Retailers are working closely with suppliers to mitigate issues, including finding alternative routes to get goods into the country, but further disruption may be unavoidable.
“This comes after a very difficult 18 months for supply chains due to Covid and disruption to global shipping and transport logistics.
“Expanding the temporary visa scheme to increase the pool of available drivers would provide a short-term solution to these issues, and the government must act quickly to avoid further disruption to consumers in the months ahead.”
Doug Bannister, chief executive of the Port of Dover, said there was ‘no congestion’ in Dover, adding people can rely on the route to the Port of Kent as ferries still continue to move .
Asked about the suggestion that there will be empty shelves at Christmas and asked 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 goods coming in on the long supply routes, on these big ships from Asia, India and the Middle East, these provide a great part of the goods that people want to have around Christmas.
He said he expects European products to be on the shelves for Christmas, adding: “So I don’t feel particularly grumpy knowing about our business, but I wonder, you know, if my wife needs to buy early Christmas presents for the kids.”
Conservative Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden insisted the government was ‘working on these challenges’ amid a backlog of goods at UK ports.
He told Sky News: ‘There is clearly a difficult problem, particularly with HGV drivers, not just here, it’s across Europe. Poland, the United States, even China have this challenge, which is why we have taken measures to respond to it, whether it is, for example with training, 5,000 additional places for the training of truck drivers , which makes the process more flexible. We are working on these challenges to meet them.
Asked about potential Christmas shortages, he said: ‘Things are improving, I’m confident 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.
Asked about Santa’s visit, Mr Dowden said: “Yes, I have children of my own and they can be (comfortable) on that front.”
Alex Hersham, managing director and co-founder of London-based digital freight forwarding company Zencargo, which helps Vivienne Westwood, Swoon Furniture and Soho Home, said: “Some containers have been sitting at the Port of Felixstowe for double the usual length of time – between 10 and 20 days – pushing the port to capacity.
“With Felixstowe handling almost 40% of all containers to and from the UK, this adds even more imbalance to the UK supply chain, particularly in the current peak consumer period in which we let’s get in before Christmas.
“Companies need supply chain visibility more than ever. Knowing where goods are now, where they will be and when, will help businesses plan for disruptions and counter major delays. It is essential that retailers and consumers prepare for an extended supply chain disruption and plan for what will be a Christmas heavily impacted by these issues.
Sites elsewhere in the world have also suffered significant delays.
Retailers highlighted particular issues in China and East Asia, where pandemic restrictions and poor weather affected shipments.
A spokesperson for the British Toy & Hobby Association said: ‘No one wants to face shortages of the things they need or want, but we are currently facing shortages of one form or another. in different ways.
“The toy industry is not alone in facing huge global and local sourcing challenges right now.
“A combination of restricted transportation options and availability and higher transportation costs faces our industry like many others. We understand that people are worried about shortages and it’s a concern we share – we anticipate continued disruption to delivery schedules to varying degrees over the coming months.
“Toymakers are working around the clock to navigate this unwanted vortex of logistical challenges to try to ensure their toys arrive and provide the range of choices that consumers seek each fall/winter and that companies wish to offer.”
He added: “There are currently plenty of toys to choose from, but in common with advice from other sectors, buying early – especially if buying for Christmas or a birthday present – is prudent.”
For more stories of where you live, visit In your region