The owner of one of the UK’s largest independent toy retailers is warning of shortages in the run-up to Christmas, urging people to shop now to avoid disappointment.
Toytown managing director Alan Simpson, who owns 10 stores across Scotland – including one in Aberdeen Trinity Centre, said shoppers who wait until December could struggle to find what they want.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, the retail boss said that delays in shipping stock out of China alongside a shortage in HGV drivers had created the “perfect storm”.
He warned ahead of the Christmas rush that stock will be limited, but toys will still be on sale.
“Our shelves are full at the minute but we’re working from existing stockholding, that can’t last forever,” Mr Simpson said.
“It’s the most popular toys that sell out first.
“If you see it buy it because you will be disappointed otherwise.
“People going into a store in December will not see the usual selection that they are used to.”
A backlog of containers at the UK port Felixstowe, which handles 40% of the UK’s incoming container ships, has also contributed to problems in the supply chain.
The UK Department for Transport said the government is working with the industry to tackle problems.
“All ports across the UK remain open to shipping lines with Felixstowe reporting improved capacity over the past few days and the government continues to work closely with the freight industry, to tackle the challenges faced by some ports this autumn,” a spokesperson said.
Mr Simpson said it is also taking too long to get containers from the port to warehouses and then deliver toys into shops.
Due to the shortage of drivers, he said shipping stock from a warehouse has gone from taking around two to three days to between seven and 10 days.
There could be several hundred containers that won’t arrive in time for Christmas
He also explained a backlog of empty containers “dotted around the world” meant it was harder for retailers to get their stock shipped from China.
“My estimation is that there could be several hundred containers that won’t arrive in time for Christmas,” he said.
“That means shortages.”
Christmas price rises ‘inevitable’
He predicted the products that do arrive in Scotland would be more expensive for customers as a result, saying “price rises are inevitable.”
He also pointed to Covid as part of the “perfect storm”, saying increased public health measures at ports left workers short of time to reload empty containers.
“I would say Brexit is one element of what is a perfect storm. You have a shortage of lorry drivers that happened overnight, the impact is not just getting stock [into the UK], but getting stock out to stores,” he told Good Morning Scotland.