Freight News, Sea

Father Christmas’s ship may have already sailed, warns freight expert

[ October 13, 2021   //   ]

Home delivery firm ParcelHero says the next two weeks are critical for retailers stocking their warehouses for Christmas, but a massive bottleneck at Felixstowe means container ships loaded with toys and gifts are now sailing away to EU ports, unable to unload in the UK.ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks says: “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

“‘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.”

He added that the truck driver shortage means it is taking about ten days before cargo at Felixstowe can be unloaded, compared with the usual four and-a-half days. 

With an estimated shortfall of 100,000 truck drivers – a figure that will be scarcely altered by the government’s “grudging” issue of 5,000 extra visas for overseas drivers port delays will only escalate as more container ships loaded with Christmas stock try to berth, he believes.

While shipping delays are a global problem, caused largely by new outbreaks of Covid at ports in China. the labour shortage problems, created by Brexit, have severely exacerbated the problem in the UK, says David Jinks.

He concluded: “Retailers are going to have to re-prioritise their orders from overseas, and shoppers will need to pounce on items online and in-store as early as possible, in case shortages escalate further.”