Why shipping bosses have warned of empty shelves and possible toy shortage this Xmas

(Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

The UK could face a toy shortage ahead of Christmas after the UK’s biggest container port reaches maximum capacity forcing ships to be turned away.

The Port of Felixstowe handles 36 per cent of the UK’s freight container traffic, much of it furniture and toys.

Sign up to our ManchesterWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Shipping company AP Moller-Maersk revealed to the BBC that is is redirecting some of its biggest ships away from the Suffolk located port.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 5 Live, Lars Mikael Jensen, who runs the east west network at Maersk, said 20,000 container ships were waiting outside Felixstowe for between four to seven days.

“We’ve taken those measures because we saw, because of the big ships, there is a limit to how many berths they can call in Felixstowe, and because its slower, it took longer to handle every ship," he said.

"Instead of wasting time waiting, we progressed to the next stop, and arranged that the boxes are relayed from that port rather than wait for a week and then discharge."

Fears over Christmas shortages

​​Felixstowe Port has blamed several factors for the container build-up, including hauling shortages, poor vessel scheduling, a busy pre-Christmas peak, and the impact of the pandemic.

The container build-up was described on Tuesday (12 October) has promoted fears that there will be a shortage of imported toys at Christmas, the Times reports.

Diverted ships have been unloaded in ports across Europe, including Rotterdam, Antwerp and Bremerhaven. These have then been transferred to smaller vessels to be shipped to the UK.

Tim Morris, head of the Major Ports Group, which represents port operators, said the industry had been hit by a whole host of issues, including Brexit border changes, global demand for goods travelling by sea, and the pandemic.

"It has not been easy and there have been times of real stress on the ports system," he said. "Ports have taken significant action to respond to the challenges and build resilience."