Christmas presents shortage: Major port closure may cause disruptions for UK-bound goods


Product shortages have made headlines in recent weeks and months, with both Brexit and the pandemic to blame for disrupted goods and missing deliveries. Due to driver and staff shortages within the food, hospitality, and logistics industries, Britons have noticed shortages of various items nationwide, including water bottles, sweets, crisps, beer, and more.

Prices paid for containers have soared to record highs in recent months as global trade networks have been damaged by disruptions at ports and borders since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to data from VesselsValue, there are 352 large container ships currently in the sea at anchor, waiting to get into ports around the world.

Nick Glynne, Chief Executive of online retailer Buy It Direct, warned the closure of the Ningbo-Zhoushan port will only add to the long list of issues British companies are currently dealing with.

He said: “This is not a good sign for a happy Christmas or even a Black Friday.”

Industry leaders have said that companies are doing their best to rectify the problem, with some businesses offering sign-on bonuses worth £1,000 or more to drivers.

Andrew Opie, a director at the British Retail Consortium (BRC) was positive there won’t be any disruption issues come Christmas.

He said: “Christmas is hugely important to retailers and customers alike, and businesses are already making preparations.

“While we do not anticipate problems, retailers will be taking all necessary measures to mitigate possible disruption.”

There are also fears that the upcoming August bank holiday will be impacted by product shortages.

Experts within the food and drinks industry have warned of a “beer drought” due to staff at GXO Logistics Drinks going on strike.

The company supplies the UK’s hospitality industry with 40 percent of its beer, according to trade union Unite.

Last month, Joe Clarke, Unite’s national officer for the drinks industry, said: “A beer drought could result if our members vote for industrial action because they make 40 percent of the beer deliveries in the country.

“This disruption would be on top of the ‘pingdemic’ that is already hitting the sector.”

This week, Mr Clarke confirmed that the strike will go ahead, adding: “Now industrial action looms for late August, we call, once again, for the company to engage in meaningful negotiations regarding a decent pay increase for our members.”

A GXO spokesperson commented: “We favour dialogue in all our negotiations. Discussions are ongoing in order to reach agreement, in particular for the hospitality sector that is only now emerging from the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown.”



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