Toy shops struggle to fulfil Christmas orders because UK ports are blocked by mountains of PPE

Santa Pause! Toy shops struggle to fulfil Christmas orders because UK ports are blocked by mountains of PPE

  • Backlog of scooters, Barbie dolls and toy castles built up at Felixstowe in Suffolk
  • Thousands of containers of PPE were slow to move from the docks, reports say
  • The congestion that followed encouraged ships to divert to European ports

By Henry Martin For Mailonline

Published: 13:55, 6 December 2020 | Updated: 14:46, 6 December 2020

Toy shops are waiting on shipments of scooters, castles and Barbie dolls amid delays at Britain’s busiest container port following a PPE backlog and global shipping problems, reports say.  

Retailers say they are waiting on consignments, with thousands of containers stuck at Felixstowe in Suffolk or still awaiting dispatch from Asia. 

Small distributors are facing the biggest blow, as thousands of containers of personal protective equipment (PPE) were slow to move from the docks. 

The congestion that followed encouraged ships from the Far East to divert to larger European ports, the Sunday Times reports.  

Mona Kalantar, co-owner of retailer BoldCube, says the company had 8,000 scooters in four containers from China – which have been delayed due to problems at Felixstowe.   

Toy retailers say they are waiting on consignments, with thousands of containers stuck at Felixstowe in Suffolk or still awaiting dispatch from Asia (pictured: File image, Felixstowe, November 17)

Ms Kalantar, 27, said: ‘It’s really devastating. With scooters, it is generally a children’s main present under the Christmas tree.

It’s not a stocking-filler that’s quite easy to replace, and we are edging closer to Christmas and it’s not clear when that is coming.’ 

She added that just one in five shipments meant to arrive in September and October, the company’s busiest time, had arrived, and while most outstanding orders were fulfilled, she had to offer some customers refunds or alternative models. 

Toy shops struggle to fulfil Christmas orders because UK ports are blocked by mountains of PPE

Toy retailers say they are waiting on consignments, with thousands of containers stuck at Felixstowe in Suffolk or still awaiting dispatch from Asia (stock image, toy castle)

Gary Grant, founder of Britain’s largest independent toy retailer The Entertainer, said that a container coming a week later than expected would be ‘substantial’.

He added that loading delays in China and further problems on entering Britain meant containers coming through Felixstowe were up to three weeks late.

The distribution chain also faces strain amid an exodus of European nationals. 

Between the third quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2020 the number of HGV drivers of EU origin at British firms dropped by 18,000.

That number for forklift truck drivers was 12,000, and 11,000 for van drivers, according to the Office for National Statistics. 

The Port of Felixstowe said the number of containers of PPE had been reduced from a peak of 11,000 to 4,000, and those left over should be gone by Christmas. 

It added: ‘The impact of Covid has put global supply chains under pressure in a way that no one was predicting three months ago… but we are working closely with our customers and partners to support international trade.’

The news comes as Christmas shoppers made up for lost time this week as they flocked to high streets in their droves for the first weekend since lockdown was lifted.

They spent an estimated GBP1.5 billion, bringing some relief to struggling retailers – but scenes of crowds packing the busiest areas sparked fears Covid infection rates could rise again, even before the five-day amnesty to allow three households to mix from December 23.

Regent Street in Central London, which had been pedestrianised to woo back shoppers, was a sea of people, few wearing masks.

Shoppers in Manchester were seen laden down with bags with long queues outside shops, including the soon-to-close Debenhams.

It’s a signal that defiant Britons are planning a turbo-charged Christmas after a year that almost everyone would prefer to forget.

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