A cabinet minister told the public to shop “normally” this Christmas after shipping containers carrying toys were diverted from the country’s biggest port.
Conservative party co-chair Oliver Dowden insisted he was “confident’ people would be able to get their toys this Christmas.
It comes after the UK’s biggest container port Felixtowe hit maximum capacity and had to turn away ships delivering toys and electrical goods.
The problem has been caused by a shortage of lorry drivers to move the containers, covid restrictions at ports and a surge in imports.
One shipping boss told The Times: “I don’t want to sound like a Grinch but there are going to be gaps on shelves this Christmas.”
However, Dowden told Sky News: “The situation is improved and I’m confident that people will be able to get their toys for Christmas.
“I quite understand why people are concerned by these headlines but we are working through these challenges as we have worked through other challenges.”
Asked if people should buy now to be on the safe side, he replied: “I think it sensible to buy when you want. Some people buy very early for Christmas, my wife is quite an early Christmas buyer, others buy later.
“I would say just buy as you do normally.”
Asked if everything would be fine for Father Christmas this year, he added: “Yes I have children myself.”
The Suffolk port normally handles up to 40 per cent of Britain’s container imports and exports.
Toys, electronics, bikes and homeware items could all be affected, according to reports.
Containers are now sitting for almost ten days before being collected for onward transport — double the time it normally takes, according to the British International Freight Association.
This latest crisis comes after fuel shortages at pumps and rising gas prices.
Dowden insisted it was not just a UK problem, adding: “It’s across Europe. Poland, US, even China has this challenge.”
He said the steps they had taken to address it included 5,000 more places for training HGV drivers and making the process more flexible.