Brits warned over shortage of summer essentials amid supply issues

7 June 2021, 11:21 | Updated: 7 June 2021, 11:30

About 60 per cent of UK-based suppliers have seen import delays in the past month
About 60 per cent of UK-based suppliers have seen import delays in the past month. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Brits have been warned there could be a shortage of summer essentials such as tents, picnic baskets and garden toys amid supply chain issues.

The boss of customs clearance platform KlearNow said he believes a perfect storm is coming, with a surge of staycations expected following the removal of Portugal from the UK government's green list and no further countries added.

Sam Tyagi said UK importers are waiting on goods that were due to arrive in the UK weeks ago, but that are still on container ships in completely the wrong parts of the world.

Brexit paperwork delays and the recent lockdowns are also playing a significant role, according to suppliers.

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About 60 per cent of UK-based suppliers have seen import delays in the past month, while more than four in five say they are worried they will run out of stock and struggle with sourcing extra.

Mr Tyagi said: "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.

"With competition for container space so high, some smaller businesses are simply being priced out of landing the goods and materials that they need."

Smaller retailers are struggling the most and may miss out on the opportunity to win back much-needed business lost during the pandemic, he added.

Camping equipment has seen a boom as holidaymakers plan staycations but with much of it made in China, delays on the Suez Canal remain due to the backlog from a ship recently becoming stuck there.

Similarly, garden furniture and toys also arrive from China and are facing the same delays.

Raw materials are already seeing record levels of inflation, according to recent reports, and the closure of the hospitality sector for several months is playing a part, Mr Tyagi said.

He explained: "Street food requires disposable packaging. Without it, vendors can't ship or serve their products.

"The irony here is that the hospitality sector shutdown is to blame for the lack of suitable street food packaging. Most packaging used for street food starts life as waste paper, most of which comes from pubs, bars and restaurants."

Heather Attwooll, of family-owned 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.

She said: "The early May bank holiday was the busiest bank holiday we've ever experienced. Demand for camping and outdoor equipment is clearly there.

"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, for example."

Extra paperwork caused by Brexit is also playing its part on delays.

Kimberley Bolton, of pet product retailer Travfurler, is having similar problems and warned of a shortage of popular products.

She said: "We've had delays importing pet GPS trackers from Austria and we are no longer able to re-stock these due to the Austrian supplier being unable to work to our pre-Brexit shipping terms. We've also had long delays importing pet health products from Hungary."