Start Christmas shopping: Toy sacks may go empty due to stock chaos

Zatu Games.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Zatu Games.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Families have been warned to start their Christmas shopping now with toy sellers predicting stock chaos this December. 

Independent retailers and chains alike have said they expect to see toy prices continue to rise as well a shortage of supply. 

The fears have been prompted by increasing charges for cargo from China with shipping costs from the country increasing by 350pc during the pandemic, according to the China-Britain Business Council. 

Zatu Games.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Zatu Games.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

This has been coupled with continued disruption as a result of the pandemic and transportation issues. 

Selina Clarke, head of buying at board game business Zatu Games based in Bowthorpe Shopping Centre, said: "We have had quite a few price rises so far this year, I’m hoping we are now coming to the end of them." 

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On sell-out items she added: "I have always said if you want something specific to buy it when you see it - even when there are no supply issues. This year that seems more important then ever. 

Zatu Games has made its predictions on the gaming trends of the year. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Zatu Games has said stock may sell out, but their wide range means there's something for everyone. - Credit: Archant

"We have been working on our Q4 orders since the beginning of May to try and have good stocks through Christmas. We stock over 60,000 games so even if the one you wanted has sold out there are plenty of alternatives."

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She was echoed by Steve Kerrison, owner of Kerrison's Toys on Aylsham Road in Norwich, who said: "I would absolutely advise people to get their Christmas shopping done now. Prices of toys have gone up and although I'm hoping I've seen the back of them you just never know. 

"We have had problems getting hold of stock and I think we will sell out of some items - particularly the trend-driven brands like Barbie."

The big retailers are also struggling with The Entertainer's chairman saying this week: "The shipping crisis in China is causing uncertainty as to what will be available and when.  So above all, we urge our customers to shop early for Christmas this year to avoid disappointment.”  

Mr Kerrison added: "Usually our deliveries might take a couple of days - at the moment they're predicting a couple of months. There's still some disruption as a result of Covid which we've been working around since the start of the pandemic."

  • Analysis: What's causing the price hike in shipping from China? 

The global supply chain has faced the perfect storm over the past 18 months: lockdowns, border controls, shifting consumer demand and driver shortages. 

One has a domino effect on the next and the result has been huge inflations in prices as demand far outweighs supply of space on ships. 

According to the World Trade Organization, a container that before the pandemic cost around £600 to ship from Harwich to Shanghai is now going for as much as £4,500.

Of course it all began with the pandemic: factories were closed in China, which now produces most of the toys we find on Norfolk's shelves. 

Consumer demand also to online and hence, deliveries. This meant peripheral supplies needed to ship these goods - like cardboard packaging - were suddenly scarce. 

And then of course once the products get to British borders it's more expensive to transport, with the haulage industry facing huge driver shortages. 

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