Rishi Sunak says he is 'confident' there will be gifts under the tree this Christmas
By James Gant For Mailonline Published: 07:16 BST, 14 October 2021 | Updated: 08:33 BST, 14 October 2021 Rishi Sunak has said he is 'confident' there will be a 'good amount' of Christmas presents in s
We wish you a fairly merry Christmas? Rishi Sunak says he hopes there will be a 'good amount' of presents on the shelves for the festive season - as retailers begin 'mega sales' EARLY in bid to avoid rush
- The Chancellor blamed global factors for the chaos threatening Christmas 2021
- Rishi Sunak also admitted that the government 'cannot fix every single problem'
- But he said ministers are doing 'everything we can' to solve issues at British ports
- It comes as retailers are planning to bring forward Christmas sales by a month
Rishi Sunak has said he is 'confident' there will be a 'good amount' of Christmas presents in stores despite the escalating supply chain crisis.
The Chancellor blamed global factors for the chaos and admitted the government 'can't fix every single problem'.
But he said ministers are doing 'absolutely everything we can' to solve issues at British ports and in shops ahead of the festive period.
It comes as supermarkets and retailers bring forward huge Christmas sales by up to a month to prevent empty shelves in December.
Industry bosses said promotions of up to 50 per cent off will be triggered early to avoid a last-minute rush after holding talks with the government.
Meanwhile families were warned to start shopping now amid fears supplies of toys, electrical goods and other products will be disrupted by logjams at UK ports.
Retail leaders said the shortage of HGV drivers to carry loads from docks around the coast is threatening festivities and the wider economy.
But in a boost for shoppers, one of the biggest suppliers of turkeys in the country assured customers Christmas dinner was not off the table just yet.
Ronald Kers, Group CEO of 2 Sisters Food Group, which is associated with Bernard Matthews, said it was bringing in 700 more workers for the festive period.
The Chancellor (pictured with his wife Akshata Murthy) blamed global factors for the chaos and admitted the government 'can't fix every single problem'
One Disney Princess Styling Head of Beauty And The Beast's Belle was cut from £25 down to £15
A Glimma Girlz Styling Head was dropped from £11.50 to £8.05 on the food giant's website
A My Lil Wardrobe 12 inch toy doll with clothes that can be attached fell over £5 from £17.50 to £12.25
Dunelm reports growth but warns of problems with supply chain issue
Homewares chain Dunelm has reported growth in first-quarter sales, although not as much as they enjoyed from last year's post-lockdown boost, while the retailer also flagged ongoing challenges with supply chain issues.
The group reported an 8.3 per cent increase in sales to £388.8 million in the 13 weeks to September 25 compared to the same period a year ago, when sales soared by 36.7 per cent thanks to pent-up demand following the initial Covid-19 lockdown.
It marks a sharp slowdown in sales growth, given the tough year-on-year comparison, but Dunelm said sales jumped 48 per cent on a two-year basis.
Online sales lifted 20 per cent, making up a third of all sales, down from 46 per cent in the previous year when stores were impacted by closures.
Dunelm cautioned over an 'uncertain' outlook in the wider economy, clouded by the UK and global supply chain disruption and rising costs due to freight and driver shortages, but stuck to its recently upgraded profit guidance.
It added it was weathering the storm thanks to good stock levels and with customers able to switch products if availability of certain lines are impacted.
But Dunelm recently revealed it was raising prices on some products as a result of inflationary pressures hitting supply chains, and was offering incentives to lorry drivers to keep trucks moving.
It comes as others in the sector, such as Next, warned over price rises for homewares, which are particularly affected by rising freight costs.
Dunelm said: 'The macro outlook remains uncertain, in particular regarding supply chain disruption and inflationary pressures from freight and driver shortages.
'Whilst we are not immune to the challenges being widely reported, we feel well placed relatively to manage them.
'In particular, we have good stock levels across our stores, warehouses and supplier partners, a low proportion of seasonal ranges within our product offer, and also benefit from a higher propensity for customers to substitute products within homewares categories, given our broad range.'
The group recently announced plans to hand a £132 million special dividend payout to shareholders after seeing profits soar 44.6 per cent to £157.8 million.
Mr Sunak set out to reassure the country Christmas will not be cancelled this year amid the ongoing crisis.
He told the BBC: 'I tell people they should be reassured we are doing absolutely everything we can to mitigate these challenges.
'They are global in nature, so we can't fix every single problem. But I feel confident there will be good provision of goods for everybody.
'And we are working our way to remove blockages where we can as with HGV drivers for example where we've provided short term visas.'
Supermarkets are set to move early to prevent a sudden rush in December by bringing forward sales by up to a month.
Retail bosses said it was 'prudent' to extend discounts for shoppers to mitigate the HGV driver shortage and port chaos.
Newly-appointed supply chain tsar Sir Dave Lewis held a conference call with retails chiefs yesterday, the Telegraph reports.
One is believed to have claimed the officials asked companies to start festive deals early - but this was shot down by government insiders.
The source said: 'We do understand that most of the retailers are doing that anyway. That's a business decision they have taken.'
Morrisons announced yesterday it was launching a 'mega sale' as it slashed prices on brands such as Disney Princess, Lego and Peppa Pig by up to 50 per cent.
Shoppers will until November 2 be able to bag the hotly anticipated LOL Surprise Mega Remix Set for just £75, down from £150.
Peppa Pig Playhouse has also gone down from £110 to £55, while Lego sets will start at just £17.50.
One Disney Princess Styling Head of Beauty And The Beast's Belle was cut from £25 down to £15.
A Glimma Girlz Styling Head was dropped from £11.50 to £8.05 on the food giant's website.
A Mars Converters toy had its price slashed from £11.50 to £9.20 while a Playgo 2 In 1 Piano & Xylophone fell to £6.45 from £9.25.
A My Lil Wardrobe 12 inch toy doll with clothes that can be attached fell over £5 from £17.50 to £12.25.
A Morrisons own brand bubble machine lawn toy mower dropped in price by £2 from £10 to £8.
Toys Buyer at Morrisons David Catton said: 'At Morrisons, our shelves are fully stocked with Christmas gifts.
'We want to help customers bag a bargain and get the Christmas shopping sorted early so they can focus on spending quality time with friends and family during the festive season.'
Chief Executive of Iceland Richard Walker said it was also one of those starting sales early, adding: 'It's prudent to get ahead of the game.'
The frozen food giant showed discounts on a range of festive favourites on Thursday morning.
An array of Pringles flavours were slashed by half price from £3 to £1.50 while Birds Eye 4 Chicken Quarter Pounders were cut by the same amount.
Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pepperoni-Salame Pizza was down to just £1.25 from £1.50 and Birds Eye 22 Chicken Dippers are £1.50 from £3.
A Mars Converters toy had its price slashed from £11.50 to £9.20
A Playgo 2 In 1 Piano & Xylophone fell to £6.45 from £9.25
A Morrisons own brand bubble machine lawn toy mower dropped in price by £2 from £10 to £8
Families were warned last night to start shopping for Christmas now amid fears toys, electrical goods and other products will be disrupted by logjams at UK ports.
Retail leaders said the shortage of HGV drivers to carry loads from docks around the coast is threatening festivities and the wider economy.
Shipping giant Maersk diverted some supersize vessels away from Felixstowe – the UK's largest container port – to alternatives on the Continent such as Rotterdam.
It is hoped containers will then be transferred to smaller ships that should find it easier to get a berth at smaller UK docks.
Meanwhile, supermarkets have been trying to fill up empty shelves with products they do have in stock, with a Tesco Extra in Cardiff placing dozens of sunflower oil bottles near a frozen food section.
David Jinks, of the parcel delivery firm ParcelHero, said: 'Britain's Christmas is relying on a Dunkirk-style removal of goods from Europe on to smaller ships bound for ports across the UK. That looks to be the only way to bring many Christmas gifts home.'
Some businesses are wary of leaving shelves stripped bare, filling fruit and vegetable aisles with festive items such as Quality Street and Celebrations.
One industry source told the Sun: 'Retailers know there is some tension in the air and don't want to see panic buying.'
Peter Wilson, of shipping agency Cory Brothers, said the UK has a 'significant pinch point around HGV drivers and the demand on them to move goods from the ports'.
The problems are hitting deliveries of kitchen white goods, electrical appliances, toys, clothing and Christmas products, he added.
He insisted the supply chain will not fail but told BBC Radio 4's Today programme consumers should 'be sensible, think ahead, plan appropriately and order your Christmas goods and the items that you need in a timely fashion to ensure you have them'.
The British Retail Consortium's Andrew Opie said: 'Congestion at Felixstowe is yet another unwanted side-effect of the HGV driver shortage.
'As cargo cannot be removed fast enough, there is a backlog of containers at the ports preventing new ships from docking and unloading.
'Retailers are working with suppliers to mitigate issues, including finding alternative routes to bring goods into the country, but further disruption may be unavoidable.'
It comes as supermarkets and retailers are believed to be planning to bring forward Christmas sales by up to a month to prevent empty shelves in December (file photo)
It is reported that shoppers in Britain are already struggling to get their hands on presents
PlayStation 5's that were on display but out of stock in Kingston, West London, on Wednesday
Elf on the Shelf supplies may also be affected, with one million of the toys being held in China ahead of shipping (file photo)
People shop for Toys in Kingston, London. Gary Grant, of the toy giant The Entertainer, said Barbie dolls and Paw Patrol toys are 'prime candidates for being short in the Christmas season'
The British Toy and Hobby Association said: 'We expect continued disruption to delivery schedules… over the coming months.
'There are plenty of toys to choose from presently but, in common with other sectors' advice, buying early – especially if buying for a Christmas or a birthday present – is prudent.'
Gary Grant, of the toy giant The Entertainer, said yesterday Barbie dolls and Paw Patrol toys are 'prime candidates for being short in the Christmas season'.
Elf on the Shelf supplies may also be affected, with one million of the toys being held in China ahead of shipping.
One of this year's biggest toys, the Cocomelon Bedtime JJ Doll, is also almost nowhere to be found in the UK amid the crisis.
Sellers on eBay are making the most of the low stock levels, with PS5 consoles going for up to £3,000, nearly seven times their RRP of £450; and the Xbox Series X for up to £2,000, more than four times above the same RRP.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max, which costs between £1,049 and £1,549 via Apple depending on the model, is going for up to £3,000 on eBay as retailers such as Ebuyer take pre-orders on their next delivery due in three weeks' time.
And the Cocomelon Musical Bedtime JJ, which has an RRP of £28, is going for up to £109 on eBay.
The doll, based on the children's TV series featuring nursery rhymes, is one of this year's most hoped-for toys under the tree.
The London-based website Stock Informer, which tracks which retailers have popular products available, states that there is no stock for any of these four products anywhere other than eBay or online marketplace StockX.
The company, which earns money from qualifying purchases, checks retailers including Amazon, Very, Currys, John Lewis, Argos, AO, Asda, Smyths, Game and Ebuyer and sends email alerts when rare items come into stock.
The PS5 stock issues have been hitting Sony since it launched the console in November last year, with the firm saying one of the main reasons was huge demand amid a shortage of semi-conductors and other components.
The London-based website Stock Informer, which tracks which retailers have popular products available, states that there is no stock for any of these four products anywhere other than eBay or online marketplace StockX
Sellers on eBay are trying to sell a PlayStation 5 for up to £3,000, nearly seven times their RRP, because they are out of stock
The Xbox Series X console is being offered on eBay for up to £2,000, more than four times above the RRP of £450
The iPhone 13 Pro Max, which costs between £1,049 and £1,549 via Apple based on the model, is going for £3,000 on eBay
Desperate steel, chemicals and glass factories plead for tax breaks on soaring energy bills as Boris prepares to sign off hundreds of millions of pounds in LOANS
Desperate steel, chemicals and glass factories today pleaded for tax breaks to help them cope with soaring energy bills - as Boris Johnson prepares to sign off hundreds of millions of pounds in loans to keep them afloat.
Energy-intensive businesses insisted cutting taxes and levies was more important than a bailout, after an extraordinary bout of wrangling in Whitehall.
Mr Johnson appears to have sided with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng following his spat with Chancellor Rishi Sunak over the need for government support.
A package is now due within days, but rather than handouts or a price cap on industrial energy costs, it is expected to come in the form of loans.
It is understood the support will also come with 'strings attached', ensuring companies cannot pay out big bonuses while they are benefiting.
The move could raise concerns that the government is merely kicking the can down the road, as firms will have to repay the costs later when energy prices have settled down.
The Treasury is said to have been alarmed at the prospect of doling out more cash, warning that 'demands simply increase' when sectors know the Chancellor is involved in the process.
Microsoft has also faced stock issues since launching Xbox X last November and said a fortnight ago that these are set to continue into 2022 amid the ongoing global chip shortages that are also impacting phone production.
As for Apple, its shares fell yesterday after claims that it could cut its iPhone 13 production targets by up to 10million units because of the chip shortage. The tech firm only launched the new model last month.
Mr Grant told BBC News: 'There'll never be toy shops with no toys. There will be toy shops without all the toys that they would normally expect to have.
'That is largely down to transportation and warehouse issues, rather than there being a shortage of toys.'
Mike Green, found of Stock Informer, told MailOnline yesterday: 'We basically track online retailers for stock of certain high demand and low supply products, and notify our users once stock is located.
'Since Covid lockdowns started March 2020 we have seen very large spike in demand across many products but especially video game consoles.
'Late March 2020 to July 2020 saw a large spike and supply issues with the Nintendo Switch console. Inflatable hot tubs also proved very popular during the summer lockdown.
'New Playstation and Xbox console launches are always accompanied with high demand and stock shortages, however during the launches in November 2020, I have never seen such high demand like it. I have been in this business over 14 years.
'To date, Stock Informer has helped tens of thousands obtain their consoles since launch.
'With Christmas 2021 approaching, the PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles will continue to prove very difficult for people to get their hands on and we expect this to continue well into 2022.
'With the current chip shortages and supply chain issues, we are also expecting many supply issues with many electronic toys and associated products.'
Alex Hersham, of the freight forwarding company Zencargo, used by brands including Vivienne Westwood, Swoon Furniture and Soho Home, said: 'Some containers have been sitting at Felixstowe for double the usual length of time – between ten and 20 days – pushing the port towards capacity.
'With Felixstowe handling almost 40 per cent of all the containers coming to and from the UK, this adds yet more imbalance to Britain's supply chain.'
But he said ministers are doing 'absolutely everything we can' to solve issues at British ports (pictured, Felixstowe this week) and in shops ahead of the festive period
Thousands of shipping containers at Felixstowe in Suffolk, as shipping giant Maersk is diverting vessels away to unload elsewhere in Europe
But Tim Morris, of the UK Major Ports Group, said: 'There's no need to panic. The global supply chains are very busy but they're robust.
'There'll be some short-term fluctuations but retailers, their suppliers, all the logistics companies that work in between the manufacturing and the sales side will be working hard to keep supplies moving.'
Tory party co-chairman Oliver Dowden insisted the Government is 'working through these challenges', for example by boosting training places for HGV drivers.
Asked about Christmas, he said: 'I'm confident people will be able to get their toys for Christmas. Some people buy very early for Christmas… others buy later. I would say just buy as you do normally.'
Elsewhere turkey industry bosses assured customers there would not be a shortage of birds over Christmas.
Mr Kers, Group CEO of 2 Sisters Food Group told the Today programme: 'Thankfully the government and in particular Defra have stepped in.
'They have opened up the seasonal work scheme, also for poultry. It came a little bit later, a little bit to short, but still we are able to bring in an additional 700 people.
'It will help us to secure the volume we think we need for Christmas.'
He added: 'The overall supply chain in very fragile as it is... it's fragile but we're working very hard to make sure our turkeys are in stores.'