Up to £1.5billion of online orders could be delayed this Christmas if congestion at Felixstowe Port continues, it has been warned.
This is according to risk modelling company The Russell Group who said clothing being imported from the UK to Asia was most likely to be impacted.
Grocers including Asda, Tesco, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer have been named as retailers that could be hit by significant delays and disruption.
One business owner, who runs the Snuggy brand, told The Mirror £1million worth of Christmas stock is currently stuck at the Suffolk port.
Russell Group said clothing worth £46.2million imported by Asda could be affected, while the figure stands at £33.7million for Tesco and £29.3million each for John Lewis and M&S.
Its figures are based on ten weeks of trade between October 12 and Christmas Day in 2020.
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The issues at Felixstowe are being caused by a huge logjam of cargo that is leading to shipping companies re-routing their stock away from the port.
Maersk, the world’s largest container-shipping company, yesterday told The Financial Times it is diverting container ships away from Felixstowe because of the massive backlog.
Felixstowe, which is the largest commercial port in the UK and handles around 40% of freight container traffic, has been “rammed full of containers” but said the situation is “starting to improve”.
The port has blamed the problems on a combination of issues including busy pre-Christmas traffic, and the lorry driver shortages.
It says issues have also been made worse by the supply chain issues that have seen supermarket shelves left empty in recent months.
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On top of this, there are also a high number of empty containers currently sitting at the port.
Suki Basi, CEO of Russell Group said: “The delays at Felixstowe in coping with the pent-up demand should not be a surprise to experienced observers of global trade events, as this is an issue that is affecting major ports from Long Beach to Yantian across the world.
“As Russell has argued in the past, trade is becoming more and more concentrated, as shown by previous analysis of $7.5 trillion of global trade flows through 50 key ports.
“So, when there is a blockage at any major port, there is disruption across the value-chain for consumers and businesses alike.”
In a statement released this week, a spokesperson from Felixstowe Port said: “The vast majority of import containers are cleared for collection within minutes of arriving and there are over 1,000 unused haulier bookings most days.
“However, the situation is improving and there is more spare space for import containers this week, than at any time since the beginning of July, when supply chain impacts first started to bite.”
Problems at Felixstowe come as retailers warn of mounting concern that families won’t be able to buy everything they need this Christmas.
Toy chains have also urged parents to start shopping early to avoid disappointment come December.
Shops have already started selling Christmas stock over warnings the UK faces months of shortages.
It comes after the boss of Iceland warned ongoing delivery issues could effectively “cancel” Christmas as supermarkets struggle to replenish shelves.
But Tesco boss John Allan has urged people not to panic-buy.
“There may be some shortages”, but people should not “over-dramatise” and panic-buy, he told the BBC.