Transport secretary Grant Shapps has echoed Chancellor Rishi Sunak and said that Christmas gifts will be available despite the backlogs witnessed at UK ports.
“People will be able to get things for Christmas,” he told Sky News. “When I talk to the ports they said it is a busy picture, but if you compared us with lots of other ports around the world, we need to keep this in proportion, things are flowing.”
Shapp’s comments echoed those made by Chancellor Rishi Sunak when he said he was confident “there will be a good amount of Christmas presents available for everyone to buy,” urging people not to panic buy.
“We’re doing absolutely everything we can to mitigate some of these challenges,” Sunak told the BBC in Washington DC. “They are global in nature so we can’t fix every single problem but I’m confident.”
Just like many other countries in the world, the UK has experienced severe backlogs at its ports due to the global shipping crisis.
On Tuesday 10 October, Danish shipping giant Maersk was forced to redirect vessels towards other European ports because of a bottleneck at Felixstowe, one of the UK’s biggest ports.
Maersk told the Financial Times that its plan was to unload somewhere else before using smaller ships to bring the containers full of Christmas presents to the UK.
According to home delivery company Parcelhero, the next weeks are set to be crucial for retailers as shipping companies work around the clock to deliver goods to British warehouses.
“Maersk is re-routing large container ships, groaning with goods ready for Christmas, to ports across Europe in the hope they can eventually reach the UK via road and ferry, or on a flotilla of smaller ships,” said Parcelhero’s head of consumer research David Jinks.
“That means Britain’s Christmas is relying on a Dunkirk-style removal of goods from Europe onto smaller ships bound for ports across the UK. That looks to be the only way to bring many of Britain’s Christmas gifts safely home.”
According to Jinks, on top of the global supply chain and shipping crises, the UK is also suffering from a shortage of HGV drivers as a result of Brexit visa rules.
“There is little prospect that we will get the 100,00 extra truck drivers that most experts believe we need,” he added on Wednesday. “The government’s issue of 5,000 extra visas for overseas workers won’t begin to solve the problem [and] that means port delays will only escalate as more container ships loaded with Christmas stock try to berth.”