The diversions of Felixstowe container ships “delay the goods for up to three weeks” as the costs increase.
Freight, including Christmas deliveries diverted to the continent from the UK’s largest port, may take another two to three weeks to finally arrive in the UK, a logistics company has warned.
Seaport Freight Services Ltd, which has been operating in Felixstowe for more than 30 years, expects the upheaval in the port of Suffolk to significantly increase delivery times for goods from the Far East.
Delays in the port have already resulted in a major shipping company diverting its oversized container ships away from the UK.
Steve Parks, director at Seaport Freight, said it wasn’t just clothing and Christmas items that were caught in the chaos of the supply chain, but food from frozen fish to coconut milk and goods from carpet tiles to forklifts.
He added that even if the goods had to come through continental ports like Rotterdam, the goods would eventually arrive in the UK, but logistics companies and retailers are faced with soaring transportation costs that are likely to lead to price increases.
The Danish shipping giant Maersk announced on Monday that it will divert one of its giant triple-E container ships from Felixstowe to the continent for a week while the British port is congested. The main reason for the traffic jam is the persistent shortage of truck drivers.
As a result, around 4,000 containers a week for the UK will now make detours to the UK, although the port of Felixstowe has since insisted that its situation has improved.
Mr Parks said: “If ships dock in places like Rotterdam rather than Felixstowe, it will take another two to three weeks for these goods to reach the UK. The fact is that the goods still arrive here, but the system is under enormous pressure and the costs are rising dramatically.
“If you wanted to send a container from Shanghai to Felixstowe 18 months ago, it would have cost 3,000 dollars. Today it’s $ 19,000 to $ 20,000.
“Some people are now finding that the cost of shipping this container is more than what they put in it. This is clearly not acceptable for many companies and they will pass these costs on in the end. ”
Yesterday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak assured that “a large amount of Christmas gifts will be available,” while stressing that the government is unable to single-handedly fix a stuttering global supply chain.
In Washington DC, where he was attending a meeting of G7 finance ministers, he said: “We are doing absolutely everything to alleviate some of these challenges. They are global in nature so we cannot solve every single problem, but I am confident that there will be good supplies for everyone.
“I am confident that there will be a good amount of Christmas gifts that anyone can buy.”
Despite Mr Sunak’s vote of confidence in the troubled delivery system, there has been some evidence that consumers are already adjusting their expectations for the availability of desirable items.
A YouGov poll yesterday found that 26 percent of people are concerned that items they might want to buy on Black Friday may be out of stock due to shipping issues.