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Shoppers told to plan ahead for Christmas amid port delays Shoppers told to plan ahead for Christmas amid port delays
(32 minutes later)
The boss of a global shipping agent has told shoppers to plan ahead for Christmas because of UK ports delays.The boss of a global shipping agent has told shoppers to plan ahead for Christmas because of UK ports delays.
Peter Wilson, from Cory Bros, said people should order items in a "timely fashion" to ensure they arrive in time.Peter Wilson, from Cory Bros, said people should order items in a "timely fashion" to ensure they arrive in time.
Shop shelves would stay stocked, but there may be less choice, he said.Shop shelves would stay stocked, but there may be less choice, he said.
Meanwhile, the UK's biggest commercial port Felixstowe said shipping container congestion had been easing in recent days after ships were diverted from the port because of bottlenecks, Meanwhile, the UK's biggest commercial port Felixstowe said shipping container congestion had been easing in recent days after ships were diverted from the port because of bottlenecks.
Mr Wilson said; "I can say completely, categorically that supply chain will not fail and that goods will be on the shelves through Christmas.Mr Wilson said; "I can say completely, categorically that supply chain will not fail and that goods will be on the shelves through Christmas.
"There just may not be that absolute choice we're all used to," he told the BBC's Today programme."There just may not be that absolute choice we're all used to," he told the BBC's Today programme.
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On Tuesday, the Port of Felixstowe, which handles 36% of the UK's freight container traffic, said the busy pre-Christmas period, HGV driver shortages, poor vessel scheduling, and high demand for goods post pandemic had led to a build-up of shipping containers.
The issue led Danish shipping giant Maersk to divert some of its larger ships to Dutch and Belgian ports to avoid delays at the port.
The problems come at the busiest period of the year for retailers, when most goods are imported from Asia to sell during Christmas trading.The problems come at the busiest period of the year for retailers, when most goods are imported from Asia to sell during Christmas trading.
Mr Wilson added that there will be "considerable strain" on the UK's supply chain this Christmas, unlike what he is seeing elsewhere in Europe. Mr Wilson added that there will be "considerable strain" on the UK's supply chain this Christmas and urged shoppers to "be sensible, think ahead, plan appropriately" to get items such as toys in time for Christmas.
He said the supply chain industry has been working "extremely hard" for the last 18 months "through Covid, Brexit and the transition" and will continue to do so. However, Tom Holder from the British Retail Consortium said that while port congestion and the driver shortages will cause "some disruption this Christmas," the impact on shoppers should be limited.
But he urged shoppers to "be sensible, think ahead, plan appropriately" to get items such as toys in time for Christmas.
'Some disruption'
Officials at Felixstowe said the continuing shortage of HGV drivers was one reason for the backlog.
Felixstowe is the UK's largest commercial port and handles 36% of the country's freight container traffic.
This week, the Danish shipping giant Maersk diverted some of its larger ships to Dutch and Belgian ports to avoid delays at the port.
Tom Holder from the British Retail Consortium said that while the port congestion and the driver shortages will cause "some disruption this Christmas," the impact on shoppers should be limited.
"It is a concern but retailers are really adept at making sure they prioritise the things people want and making sure people's Christmas favourites are available to buy.""It is a concern but retailers are really adept at making sure they prioritise the things people want and making sure people's Christmas favourites are available to buy."
Officials at Felixstowe said the continuing shortage of HGV drivers was one reason for the backlog.
Trade group, the UK Ports Association, said most UK ports were operating normally but said the shortage of drivers was having an impact.
"This has meant that some freight is not being collected as rapidly as it would normally. The situation is impacting all types of ports, not just container terminals.
"It has resulted in some further delays for a range of ports and terminal operations are working with their customers to get these goods out of their ports to avoid further congestion," it said.
'Buy normally'
Industry bodies estimate there is a shortage of about 100,000 drivers with several sectors from retailers to domestic refuse collection affected. The government recently drafted in military personnel to help deliver fuel and to issue emergency temporary visa to foreign drivers.
The shortage has been caused by several factors, including European drivers who went home during the pandemic, Brexit, tax changes and a backlog of HGV driver tests.
Conservative Party chair Oliver Dowden told the BBC that the government was increasing the number of people having tests and that he would "expect that number to increase as we approach Christmas".
Asked about potential Christmas shortages, he told Sky news: "The situation is improving, I'm confident that people will be able to get their toys for Christmas.
"Some buy people buy very early for Christmas, my wife is quite an early Christmas buyer, others buy later. I would say just buy as you do normally."