Many toy retailers will be forced to put prices up this winter because of spiralling container costs, while fierce competition to secure containers and space on ships means shops will struggle to buy in additional stock of popular toys beyond the autumn.
Barry Hughes, managing director of Golden Bear Toys, estimates that the increased shipping container prices are going to cost his business an extra £1m per year.
The firm has been “trying to swallow the costs” without passing them on to his customers but will have to raise some prices, Mr Hughes said.
“It’s been crazy. Normally a 40ft container from the Far East to the UK [costs me] $1,600 (£1,200). The last one we paid for was $16,900 (£23,000),” he said.
“Normally the new Christmas toys come out in June or July, we get a read on how popular they are and we can order in more in October and November. This year that’s not possible. [Deliveries] are late.
“There is some stock retailers hold in their warehouses, but that starts to run dry. I can foresee a shortage of toys because of container shortages… and then there will be price inflation as well,” he added.
"Buy early because there’s going to be shortages"
Once the goods the firm has ordered reaches UK soil, we have to arrange transportation from the ports which has become tricky due to the nationwide HGV driver shortage.
“Costs of securing those drivers has gone up 10 per cent in the past month,” Mr Hughes said.
Asked for his advice to consumers this year, he said: “The message from me would be buy early because there’s going to be shortages [and] also price increases.”