// Consumers will face higher prices & less choice on shelves this Christmas as a result of a “perfect storm” of economic pressures
// Rising prices of shipping containers has led some toy importers to delay their orders
Retailers have warned of further disruption and delays for goods this Christmas as increasing pressure continues to build on global supply chains.
Bosses are racing to avoid higher prices and empty shelves after the closure of a terminal at Ningbo-Zhoushan port in China, which handled cargo equivalent to almost 29 million containers last year.
The shutdown has cut capacity at the site by a quarter at the busiest time of year, as retailers across the West gear up for the festive season.
The part-closure of the port comes after outbreaks at the Yantian port in Shenzhen severely disrupted operations for several weeks from the end of July.
Experts in the toy industry told the Observer that consumers will face higher prices and greater scarcity on the shelves this Christmas as a result of a “perfect storm” of economic pressures that have disrupted their plans.
Despite attempts, they warned it was already too late to resolve the bottlenecks in time for this year.
Larger chains have already been trying to hoard stock to head off supply issues, but there is a limit to the warehouse space they have available.
While rising prices have led some toy importers to delay their orders, even those who are willing to pay can’t always secure a container.
In addition to the shipping difficulties, toy retailers are facing a shortage of lorry drivers when goods do arrive in the UK.
Higher demand during lockdowns and the reintroduction of Covid restrictions in some Chinese manufacturing locations have all exacerbated the problems.
While many importers and retailers face these problems, the seasonal nature of the toy trade has meant that supply issues cannot be resolved by the time children go to open their gifts on Christmas morning.
Retailers said that while it was too soon to tell what the most in-demand toys would be this season, there is already demand for Paw Patrol figures and fidget popper stress relievers.
Unwelcome as it may seem, shoppers have been urged to start buying Christmas gifts sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment.