SHOPPERS are panic-buying Christmas toys and presents already as Britain faces major supply chain chaos until Easter.
High streets, shopping centres and retail parks all saw footfall up over the past week as people hit stores to fill trolleys with toys and games.
Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, said: “Parents don’t want to take chances on products not being available near to Christmas, so some are buying now.
“If people expect a crisis, they help create one by rushing to shops to buy things.”
Gary Grant, founder of The Entertainer toy shop chain, said: “We have never seen this level of Christmas present-buying at this time of the year.
“Are these early purchases or are the amount of toys being bought by families increasing as they look to make up for last year’s cancelled Christmas? We just don’t know yet.”
But he reassured families there was no need to worry.
He said: “Sure, the number of items not available in December will be greater than normal. But we won’t be like a supermarket with no loo roll. We will still have toys.
“For those not buying a particular toy who are happy to be inspired by what they see there will be plenty of toys to buy.”
Morrisons and Tesco both have half-price toy sales, and Smyths and Argos — the UK’s biggest seller of toys — all have offers.
One store boss said: “For mums and dads, no toys is probably a bigger worry than no turkey.
“They can make do with chicken or beef but it’s hard to get by when a kid really wants something.”
After many missed out on Christmas celebrations last year because of lockdowns, shoppers are rushing to buy for the festivities now — more than a month earlier than usual.
Shopper totals have leapt almost five per cent week-on-week as more Brits flock to stores.
High streets saw a 7.1 per cent footfall rise last week, compared to the previous week, analysts Springboard said, with lower footfall rises at shopping centres and retail parks.
The Centre for Retail Research warned of shortages of presents this Christmas and forecast supply chain problems until at least April because the world is so reliant on China for manufacturing.
However, some believe the supply chain could remain clogged for as long as two years.
Experts also warned it would take years to recruit the missing 100,000 HGV drivers.
Mr Bamfield said: “Retailers order toys in very early in the year and cannot just get extra deliveries from China. So when toys are gone, they’re gone.
“Retailers are also expected to promote deals earlier than usual before Christmas.
GAPS ON SHELVES
“There will be some gaps on the shelves for presents this Christmas. Supply chain problems are expected to last for six months, until Easter.
“You can’t just find 100,000 HGV drivers. It will take years to find enough people with those skills.”
The British Independent Retailers Association said: “If you see something you want, now is the time to buy as retailers have most of their Christmas stock — but we can’t guarantee supplies of everything over the next few weeks.”
Springboard said: “Widespread awareness among consumers of potential supply issues is likely to lead to consumers bringing Christmas purchasing forward to November to guarantee availability of desired gifts.
“Supply issues associated with the shortage of HGV drivers will unfortunately cause further issues for retailers over the Christmas trading period.”
Meanwhile, former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis suggested on Radio 4 yesterday that Brits make their own toys to put under the tree this year.
She said: “I don’t think children are ever disappointed by making something with you
…But no real dash for a £6k pamper hamper
FORTNUM & Mason has got Christmas all wrapped up for the well-heeled — a £6,000 hamper.
The 67-item goodie basket from the Queen’s grocer costs the same as a second-hand Ford Fiesta.
It includes caviar and a mother of pearl bowl and spoon to serve it with.
There are £175 Christmas crackers, £40 balsamic vinegar, a £300 picnic backpack, a £375 magnum of rosé, a £110 rug, a £525 bottle of rare whisky, a £40 Xmas pud and a £165 box of chocs.
It also has a £15 jar of jam, £45 baubles and £37.50 tea caddy, plus a book on tea, a tea set and pot.
Fortnum bosses say the hamper is good value, adding: “Did you know?
"The price of a Fortnum’s hamper is always less than the cost of buying its contents and basket individually.”
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