'Be prepared': Stark warning for Aussies ahead of Christmas rush

·3-min read

Aussies are being urged to stock up for Christmas, with global supply chains worldwide predicted to struggle in the coming months.

A combination of lockdowns, border closures, extreme backlogs and higher customer demands are said to be the major causes behind the delays.

"The key message for consumers is to be prepared and don't leave your Christmas shopping to the last minute," said Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra.

Dr Hermione Parsons, director of the Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics at Deakin University, Victoria told Choice that Covid-19 is largely to blame.

The main message for Aussie shoppers this year is
The main message for Aussie shoppers this year is "be prepared". Source: AAP/File

"It's created serious problems in air freight and serious problems in sea freight. And because Australia is an island nation, we have been seriously hit."

UK already experiencing delays 

The UK's busiest port Felixstowe is already under pressure, with a bottleneck of containers at the port — blamed on lack of truck drivers — already wreaking havoc on the country.

Supply shortages have resulted in panic buying petrol and empty shelves at supermarkets, with people worried about the months ahead.

“With Felixstowe handling almost 40 per cent of all the containers coming to and from the UK, this adds yet more imbalance to Britain’s supply chain, especially in the current peak consumer period we are entering ahead of Christmas,” said Alex Hersham, chief executive of London-based digital freight forwarding company Zencargo told AP.

Photos of half empty shelves at supermarket in the UK.
The UK is already experiencing major shortages. Source: Getty

“It is essential that retailers and consumers prepare for an extended disruption to the supply chain and plan for what will be a Christmas heavily impacted by these issues."

The US is also seeing empty shelves and a lack of supplies, with cargo ships stuck offshore unable to unload.

'Concerned' if Covid cases rise

A report released in September 29 by the Australian Food and Grocery Council warned that with people in the food and grocery manufacturing industry forced to stay at home due if deemed a close contact, food and grocery supplies will be increasingly disrupted.

"The same volumes of products cannot be made or distributed to supermarkets and through other channels with workers at home," the report said.

AFGC CEO Tanya Barden said that the industry is currently keeping up with supply, but is concerned about the coming months if Covid cases increase.

Thousands of shipping containers at the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk, as shipping giant Maersk has said it is diverting vessels away from UK ports to unload elsewhere in Europe because of a build-up of cargo. Picture date: Wednesday October 13, 2021.. Maersk has started rerouting its container ships away from Felixstowe, the UK's largest commercial port, to unload in Europe before using smaller vessels to finally get deliveries to the UK, the Financial Times reported. See PA story CONSUMER Shortages . Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Cargo ships are being diverted away from Felixstowe to unload elsewhere in Europe because of a build-up of cargo. Source: Joe Giddens/PA Wire via AAP

“We need to ensure that close or casual contacts who are double vaccinated and return a negative PCR test can return to work. There is already pressure in supply chains, with lots of staff in quarantine due to being deemed close contacts. This could have an impact on product availability.

“The next few months is when the industry normally builds stock ahead of Christmas, and it is expected this will be a strong Christmas trade if lockdowns have ended,” Ms Barden said.

Australia Post delays

The warning comes as Australia Post continues to struggle with logistical problems.

Australian Post spokesperson previously told Yahoo News Australia said the staff shortages due to Covid-19 exposure sites combined with “border closures, reduced flights and compliance with Covid-safe restrictions does create challenges” and “some delivery delays may be experienced.”

with AP

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