The price of toys is set to rise in the lead-up to Christmas, the boss of a British toy company has warned, as the cost of delays and shortages hit shoppers’ pockets.
Joel Berkowitz, founder of The London Toy Company, said parents are likely to face forking out more for presents this year as businesses try to allay some of the expense of shipping items to the UK, which has risen dramatically amid the global pandemic.
“Toys this Christmas are going to be more expensive – and that’s if they’re even in stock,” Mr Berkowitz told the PA news agency.
“We are massively affected by the shortages. We have clients wanting to place orders now and we just can’t deliver it.
“One of our customers is Amazon and they placed a massive order this morning but we can’t fulfil it, so it’s killing our business. It’s a complete mess.”
Problems are beginning at the ports in key manufacturing countries such as China, toy industry insiders said, where there is a lack of empty shipping containers – an after-effect of a global shutdown on trade during the height of the pandemic.
Companies are now having to wait at least three weeks for a container to become available and then the price to have their goods shipped is as much as eight times the normal rate.
Shipping containers being unloaded in the UK, where there are fears of huge delays in importing goods for the Christmas shopping rush
Congestion at UK ports and the lack of HGV drivers to transport the goods to warehouses causes further delays.
The tax that companies are expected to pay to import the goods is also higher due to it being calculated based on manufacturing and shipping costs.
Mr Bercowitz said: “In any given year we bring in about 30 containers which previously would have cost around £30,000. This year it’s going to cost us £150,000, possibly more.
“Then even when they get here, we’re quoted a three-week delay to get a truck to take it from the port to our warehouse.
“It’s a whole chain reaction affecting every part of the shipping process. And it’s only going to get worse.”
“There are two things that could help right now and that’s the Government allowing port workers and HGV drivers from Europe to work freely over here. Then they need to have serious talks about the shipping process, and the companies that run it, which are being referred to as cartels.”
Mr Bercowitz said new products they have developed this year, such as an electric underground train set to go on sale in the London Transport Museum, will now likely cost around £50 instead of the originally intended £35-40.
Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, founder and owner of UK-based WOW Toys, which delivers toys across the world, said: “We’ve been doing this for 25 years and the current situation is totally unprecedented and will mean inflation of retail prices for toys this Christmas and beyond.
Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, founder and owner of UK-based WOW Toys
“While the situation with HGV drivers is a UK issue, everything else is a global issue.
“The biggest problem of all is the shipping lanes, which are run by a handful of companies such as Cosco and Maersk, who have put their prices up massively because they have complete free rein.
“Whereas the cost of a container for us was around 2,300 dollars, now it’s 20,000 dollars.
“And the result is going to be a massive inflationary problem around the world. So I can’t understand why governments, including the UK’s, aren’t bringing pressure on them.”
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