Reason behind import delays
Some firms are struggling to secure summer items like garden furniture, picnic baskets and outdoor toys, as consumers prepare to holiday in the UK.
About 60% of British suppliers have experienced import delays in the past month, according to customs clearance platform KlearNow.
The six-day-long Suez Canal blockage in March is partly to blame, as goods meant to arrive weeks ago are still stuck on container ships elsewhere.
Other factors that contribute
KlearNow based its findings on interviews with 300 import-export businesses based in the UK.
India’s public health crisis
“A combination of Covid-19 restrictions, the backlog from the Suez Canal blockage, increasing global demand for shipping containers, disruption to shipping caused by India’s public health crisis and a shortage of packaging materials means UK businesses are already struggling to meet summer demand,” said KlearNow’s chief executive Sam Tyagi.
“With competition for container space so high, some smaller businesses are simply being priced out of landing the goods and materials that they need.”
International travel rules
Items like camping equipment have seen a spike in demand as more British families look to domestic holidays, with the government tightening rules on international travel rules and moving Portugal to the amber list.
Supply chain shortage
Heather Attwooll of camping and outdoor equipment retailer Attwoolls, is still waiting on orders placed in October and has nine containers of outdoor clothing, camping gear and hiking equipment stuck in Egypt as a result of the Suez Canal blockage.
“The early May bank holiday was the busiest bank holiday we’ve ever experienced… But there is a risk that small businesses like ours will soon be unable to meet that demand due to supply chain problems out of our control.”
“All of the garden furniture we normally source from China was bought up by Walmart [in the US], for example.”
Lisa Craig from Oxford had a frustrating time trying to find gas for her campervan when she wanted to switch from a small butane gas bottle to a larger propane gas one.
Under the scheme, people pay for their first gas container and then swap the empty when they want to buy a new one. But without an empty one of the right type or size, Lisa was left empty-handed.
“I think the only way you can get one is if you buy a new barbeque and it comes with it which could leave people hoping to camp this summer sorely disappointed,” she said. “I emailed Calor gas UK, and various camping companies to try and understand why, but did not get anywhere.”
Demand from the hospitality industry
Shipping delays are only one part of the problem. According to retail expert Kate Hardcastle, there has been an explosion of demand coming from the hospitality industry as it gets back on its feet following lockdown.
“The demand is so high, not just because of a shortage in supply, but also because things are being repurposed in very different ways.”
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