Stay-at-home holidaymakers warned of summer products shortage

Some firms are struggling to secure summer items like garden furniture, picnic baskets and outdoor toys, as consumers prepare to holiday within the UK.

About 60% of British suppliers have experienced import delays within the past month, consistent with customs clearance platform KlearNow.

The six-day-long Suez Canal blockage in March is partly responsible , as goods meant to arrive weeks ago are still stuck on container ships elsewhere.

But there are other factors at play.

KlearNow based its findings on interviews with 300 import-export businesses based within the UK.

“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 satisfy summer demand,” said KlearNow’s chief executive Sam Tyagi.

“With competition for container space so high, some smaller businesses are simply being priced out of landing the products and materials that they have .”

Items like camping equipment have seen a spike in demand as more British families look to domestic holidays, with the govt tightening rules on international travel rules and moving Portugal to the amber list.

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Since many popular products are manufactured in China, retailers are being impacted by shortages in their supply chains and US retailers have experienced similar problems procuring summer essential items.

Heather Attwooll of camping and outdoor equipment retailer Attwoolls, remains waiting on orders placed in October and has nine containers of outside clothing, camping gear and hiking equipment stuck in Egypt as a results of the Suez Canal blockage.

“The early May legal holiday was the busiest legal holiday we’ve ever experienced… But there’s a risk that tiny businesses like ours will soon be unable to satisfy that demand thanks to supply chain problems out of our control.

Some retailers have struggled to source picnic baskets
image captionSome retailers have struggled to source picnic baskets
“All of the garden furniture we normally source from China was bought up by Walmart [in the US], for instance .”

Garden toys, games and picnic baskets also are being delayed by delays, said Katherine Rhodes of the retailer PomPom.

“We’re experiencing delays of up to four months on wooden toys coming from the Far East , handmade baskets and wood supplies. And we’ve had to attend 16 weeks for cardboard boxes.”

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Hobs during a campervan
Gas gone
Lisa Craig from Oxford had a frustrating time trying to seek out gas for her campervan when she wanted to modify from alittle butane gas bottle to a bigger propane gas one.

“We were told that Calor gas was only doing like-for-like exchanges,” she told the BBC.

Under the scheme, people buy their first gas container then swap the empty once they want to shop for a replacement one. But without an empty one among the proper type or size, Lisa was left empty-handed.

“I think the sole way you’ll get one is that if you purchase a replacement barbeque and it comes with it which could leave people hoping to camp this summer sorely disappointed,” she said. “I emailed Calor gas UK, and various camping companies to undertake and understand why, but didn’t get anywhere.”

Eventually after every week checking out a bottle online she managed to shop for one through online sales platform eBay, but others might not be so lucky.

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Shipping delays are just one a part of the matter . consistent with retail expert Kate Hardcastle, there has been an explosion of demand coming from the hospitality industry because it gets back on its feet following lockdown.

“Campers and caravaners have gotten competition from restaurants and hotels for outdoor equipment,” she said.

“The demand is so high, not simply because of a shortage in supply, but also because things are being repurposed in very alternative ways .”

The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa sourced bell tents, garden furniture and other items so it could continue running its spa business from its lawn
image captionThe Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa sourced bell tents, garden furniture and other items so it could continue running its spa business from its lawn
One example is that the Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa in North Yorkshire , which has brought its entire spa operation outdoors to make sure it maintains social distancing.

It ordered in garden furniture, bell tents and other equipment back in March, because it feared supply chain problems amid the easing of restrictions. However, it struggled to acquire the things .

“What we found is that your first choice isn’t always available and you would like to plan of the box,” said Mr Palmer.

“Our general hospitality supply chains aren’t always ready – it’s domestic consumer supply chains that have come to the rescue and even Amazon.”

The hotel even ended up sourcing a number of the furniture it needed second-hand from Carluccio’s, after the troubled Italian chain shut 40 restaurants.

Other hospitality businesses are looking to reinforce their outdoor offerings, resulting in a surge in demand for summer products, said Ms Hardcastle.

“Everyone’s trying to compete by trying to make the theatre and ambience and space – it has been a horrendous time for retail and this is often just another incredible challenge for retailers to affect .”


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