Festive goods turned away from congested Port of Felixstowe prompting fears of shortages

Wed 13 Oct 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

Christmas goods such as toys, bikes, electronics and homeware items have not been able to be unloaded at the congested Port of Felixstowe prompting fears of festive shortages.

Shipping containers are being rerouted to other ports, leading to delays and worries about gaps on shelves in the run up to Christmas.

Diversion

Shipping companies are directing vessels away from Felixstowe after it ran out of storage capacity this week, according to the Times

Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipping company, has already diverted vessels away from Felixstowe, which handles 36% of the UK’s containers.

Lengthy transfers

Containers are being unloaded at European ports, such as Rotterdam, Antwerp and Bremerhaven, and transferred to smaller ships for transport to Britain, causing delays of up to a week. 

Government sources said that they are monitoring the situation but said there was enough port capacity in Britain.

Problems

According to the BBC, Felixstowe port has blamed the pre-Christmas peak, HGV shortages, poor vessel scheduling, and the pandemic for the problems.

The high number of empty containers waiting at the port is exacerbating the issue, but the port claims the situation has been improving over the last few days.

Tim Morris, head of the Major Ports Group, said there had been “stress on the ports system” but added: “Ports have taken significant action to respond to the challenges and build resilience.”

Global issues

Other ports around the world are facing similar congestion.

West coast US ports have dozens of vessels waiting to unload at the moment and CNBC reports that President Biden is set to announce round the clock port operations to try and tackle the problem.

In China and east Asia, ports have recently been affected by pandemic restrictions and poor weather conditions.