Shoppers have been warned to expect a “nightmare” Christmas as nut roasts could replace the turkeys and there could be a beer shortage.
Shelves will be empty and indispensable toys will be harder to find than ever in December, Britain’s biggest retailers predict.
It comes after Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, admitted that the fuel crisis could affect Christmas as he revealed the government’s reserve tanker fleet would be deployed.
When asked if the situation would continue in the run-up to Christmas, he said, “I’m not guaranteeing anything; I’m just saying I think the situation is stabilizing.’
Clive Black, a retail analyst at Shore Capital, said: The times Brits will ask ‘what the hell is this’ when they look at their plates on Christmas Day.
Beer could be in short supply, shelves will be empty and indispensable toys will be harder to find than ever, Britain’s biggest retailers predict (file image)
He added: ‘It won’t be traditional. They may eat different meats and nut roasts. Likewise, if the CO2 problem is not solved, expect that beer and carbonated soft drinks will be scarce and much more expensive.
“Christmas 2021 will generally be much more expensive due to the costs facing the food and distribution industry.”
He said the deficits had “nothing to do with Brexit” but were caused by “mismanagement of the economy”.
He accused David Kennedy, the director general for food at the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, of “a disgrace.”
Mr Black said it was too late to save Christmas and there will likely be a shortage of toys, bicycles, sofas and electronic goods due to port delays.
Meanwhile, the government is introducing a temporary visa regime employing 5,000 truck drivers and 5,500 poultry workers on three-month contracts in an effort to quell fuel supply problems and supermarket shortages.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the plan would help end the ‘100 to 200’ shortage of fuel tanker drivers, adding that the ministers plan to train an additional 4,000 truck drivers with the help of the military. reduce bottleneck. in truck driving tests.
Andrew Opie, of the trade group, said the UK is facing a shortage of around 90,000 lorry drivers, with the visa regime ‘inadequate in size and scope to avoid Christmas disruption’ (file image)
Andrew Opie, of the trade group, said the UK is facing a shortage of around 90,000 lorry drivers, with the visa regime “inadequate in size and scope to avoid Christmas disruption”.
Clothing retailer Next said prices are likely to rise during the Christmas season.
A spokesman for Defra said the UK has a ‘resilient food supply chain’ that has held up so far and ‘will do so over the festive season’.
Scottish Food & Drink CEO James Withers said: ‘We have been asking for emergency visas for weeks to prevent the collapse of some food supply chains.
“I doubt very much that 10,000 three-month visas will make it. It may help the driver situation a bit, but it won’t address the chronic staff shortage in food production. At this stage, my instinct is that this is too little, too late to really make a difference to the Christmas trade.’
People refuel their vehicles at a petrol station in London, UK, on September 28
The DVLA now says there are more than 54,000 truck license applications to process – but some are likely to be renewed.
It comes after British drivers hunted or queued for hours to fill their tanks at dozens of closed filling stations, decorated with signs saying they were out of petrol or diesel.
A post-Brexit shortage of truck drivers, exacerbated by a halt in truck driving license testing amid COVID lockdowns and people leaving the transport sector, has wreaked havoc in supply chains, leaving the specter of shortages and price hikes in the run-up to Christmas.
Britain has put a limited number of military tanker drivers on standby to deliver fuel if needed.
Government emergency fuel plan suggests rationing and priority pumps for NHS and police are underway
Rationing fuel and gas stations only to emergency responders are likely next steps in the crisis, government documents reveal.
Under a government emergency plan (pictured), key workers could be given ‘priority access’ to a number of petrol stations.
The plan includes limiting the amount of fuel drivers can purchase and granting “priority access” to pumps for critical workers.
Another option, the designated gas station schedule, could be for ’emergency and critical service vehicles’ to be given priority access. This was done by the Tony Blair government during the 2000 fuel crisis.
The document, published last year, reveals the government’s next steps are:
Designated gas station schedule: Emergency and critical services vehicles are given priority access to road fuel from service stations
Bulk distribution schedule: Oil companies and fuel distributors can be directed to prioritize the delivery of bulk oil products to critical services such as emergency services, utilities and public transportation.
Commercial Distribution Arrangement: Oil companies and fuel distributors can be directed to prioritize the delivery of road diesel to the commercial vehicle sector to support the operation of key supply chains, such as food and health.
Maximum Purchase Scheme (rationing): This limits the sale of road fuel at service stations to the public to a maximum amount per visit to ensure that all motorists have access to some fuel.
The scheme may also limit the sales hours of road fuels.
Schedule for allocation of crude oil and imported products: The government can formally allocate crude oil and other imported oil products within the UK.
Mr Shapps and some gas station operators reported that the situation appeared to be easing as reserves at some gas stations had been replenished.
“We are starting to see very tentative signs of stabilization that are not yet reflected in the queues,” Shapps told reporters.
“The sooner we all return to our normal buying habits, the sooner this will be resolved – and I appeal to the public to do so. Especially no more bottled water at gas stations: dangerous and not convenient.’
Industry groups said the biggest shortages appeared to be in London and other English cities where many petrol stations remained closed. Fighting broke out in some forecourts as drivers rushed for fuel and photos on social media showed some people filling old water bottles with fuel.
There are also increasing calls to prioritize medics, health personnel and other essential workers to fill their cars to keep hospitals and social care services running.
An atmosphere of chaos has gripped the world’s fifth largest economy in recent weeks, as a truck driver shortage strained supply chains and a spike in European wholesale prices for natural gas bankrupted energy companies.
Retailers, truck drivers and logistics companies have warned that prices for everything from energy to Christmas gifts will have to rise.
“I can’t believe it – it’s crazy,” said David Scade, a 33-year-old delivery man who drove for hours looking for fuel in London.
“They keep saying there’s no shortage, but I assume everyone is panicking now.”
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents independent fuel retailers representing 65 per cent of all 8,380 service stations in the UK, said there were early signs that the crisis was over.
“We surveyed our members this morning and only 37% of service stations reported running out of fuel today. As new stocks occur regularly, this percentage is likely to improve further over the next 24 hours,” said Gordon Balmer, PRA’s Executive Director.
The government announced on Sunday a plan to issue temporary visas to 5,000 foreign truck drivers. But some Polish carriers said the offer was laughable and few were likely to take it, and the German freight industry said drivers who left after Brexit wouldn’t go back.
Carriers, gas stations and retailers say there are no quick fixes because the shortage of truck drivers – estimated at around 100,000 – is so dire, and because transporting fuel requires additional training and permits.
Ministers want companies that depend on truck drivers to pay more and offer better conditions, instead of relying on cheap foreign labour. But carriers and other companies say this can only be a long-term solution, while in the meantime it will mean prices rising and the risk of a prolonged rise in inflation.
Analysts cited concerns about the impact on the economy if fuel shortages continued as a factor in the pound’s decline of more than 1 percent against the dollar and the euro.
The BRC urged the government to expand the size and scope of the visa regime to attract the truck drivers needed to keep Christmas supplies on track.
“It will be many months before there are enough new British drivers to cover the shortfall,” said Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the BRC.