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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.
Biggest UK commercial port hit by container logjamBiggest UK commercial port hit by container logjam
Why is there an HGV driver shortage?Why is there an HGV driver shortage?
Temporary visa plan to ease lorry driver shortageTemporary visa plan to ease lorry driver shortage
Driver shortage: 'I got a big pay rise overnight'Driver shortage: 'I got a big pay rise overnight'
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. A spokesperson from the Port of Felixstowe told the BBC that the port currently has 50,000 containers which are waiting to be collected.
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. "It's not the port of Felixstowe affecting the supply chain it's the supply chain affecting the port of Felixstowe," the spokesperson added, explaining that the problems are "similar at all major UK ports".
Industry bodies estimate there is a shortage of about 100,000 drivers with several sectors from retailers to domestic refuse collection affected.
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.
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 of Felixstowe, which handles 36% of the UK's freight container traffic.
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 and urged shoppers to "be sensible, think ahead, plan appropriately" to get items such as toys in time for Christmas.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.
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. However, Tom Holder from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that while 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. Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the BRC, also said the Felixstowe congestion is "yet another unwanted side effect of the HGV driver shortage."
"Extending the temporary visa scheme to increase the pool of drivers available would provide a short term fix to these problems, and Government must act quickly to prevent further disruption for consumers in the months ahead."
Trade group, the UK Ports Association, said most UK ports were operating normally but said the shortage of drivers was having an impact.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."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."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''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. Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, said there is "no need to panic buy" but advised customers to start their normal shopping process earlier.
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. "If you see something you want, now is the time to buy as retailers have most of their Christmas stock, but we can't guarantee having supplies of everything over the next few weeks".
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". "It's a challenge for small retailers because they don't have the cash to stockpile," he added.
The government recently drafted in military personnel to help with the driver shortages and deliver fuel. Emergency temporary visas have also been issued to foreign drivers.
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.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.""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."