Toy shop owners warn of stock shortages in Christmas run-up

toy shop

Toy shop owner Donald Nairn has been warned to expect stock shortages in the run-up to Christmas.

Suppliers have told the Edinburgh businessman that a shortage of lorry drivers, among other problems linked to Brexit and Covid, are likely to have an impact.

He hopes he will have plenty of Christmas stock if he puts in orders now.

But business groups are calling for government action.

Lobby groups for the retail and transport industries have jointly written to UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng warning that the impact on supply chains is getting worse.

They say a shortage of 90,000 HGV drivers “is placing increasingly unsustainable pressure on retailers and their supply chains”.

Mr Nairn, who has run Toys Galore in Morningside since 2005, said almost all his suppliers had emailed to warn of stock shortages as Christmas approaches.

“At least half of them have increased the prices they’re charging us and although we’ll do our best to absorb it, invariably there will be price rises, I think, in the second half of the year,” he said.

Mr Nairn said they have told him they are having problems with container ships as their prices have gone up “several-fold”.

“They’re also having problems with delivery drivers and other knock-on effects from both Covid and Brexit,” he added.

He predicted that the shortages would involve toys from Asia as “the logistical chain is that much longer”.

“We are basically ordering as much stock as we possibly can right now so we have stuff to sell at Christmastime,” he said.

“Certain things I anticipate will be in incredibly short supply, like Barbies for example.

“It’s very hard to pinpoint exactly where the problem is going to be but I think if we do as much as possible now, we should be in a reasonably good position going into Christmas, that said, there will be shortages.”

Similar problems are also affecting brewers and last week the Scottish Licensed Trade Association warned that some pubs in Scotland were on the brink of running out of beer due to distribution issues.

image captionEwan MacDonald-Russell, of the Scottish Retail Consortium, is raising concerns before it becomes a big issue
The shortage of lorry drivers has partly been caused by the pandemic, when recruitment and training paused, according to Ewan MacDonald-Russell, of the Scottish Retail Consortium.

He said about 25,000 HGV drivers who were EU nationals had also left the UK since Brexit.

“That’s why we’re seeing the odd gaps appearing [on shop shelves],” he added.

“There’s a little bit of disruption but it’s important not to exaggerate that – there’s plenty of supply at the moment but it’s becoming more and more challenging all the time.

“We are raising concerns about it now before it becomes a huge issue.”

Temporary work visas

He said the industry wanted to see temporary work visas granted to EU drivers to plug the gap in the short term.

They also want to see improvements in support for training lorry drivers, and better Covid testing facilities so drivers can be tested daily.

A UK government spokesperson said: “We recently announced a package of measures to help tackle the HGV driver shortage, including plans to streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence and to increase the number of tests able to be conducted.

“We have also temporarily relaxed drivers’ hours rules to allow HGV drivers to make slightly longer journeys, but these must only be used where necessary and must not compromise driver safety.”