Retailers ‘struggling to get toys in time for Christmas’ due to supply chain issues

Retailers ‘struggling to get toys in time for Christmas’ due to supply chain issues

Santa could struggle to deliver the goods in time for many families this Christmas, warns Northern Ireland based toy retailer Toytown.

Owner Alan Simpson told Neighbourhood Retailer that many retailers are struggling with supply chain issues due to the global shortage of shipping containers.

The Toytown founder said his company was in a good position to fill up containers back in June when the price of shipping was much lower – and that means they will have plenty of stock this Christmas.

“We filled our boots back in May or June because we were able to see this coming down the road and we were able to pre-empt those problems,” he says.

“We were able to load up with a year’s stock in May and be able to get a lot of stock in before some of those price rises began to take effect.”

But for many retailers coming out of lockdown, this wasn’t an option, he said. And while a grocery retailer might be able to switch to local suppliers when supply chain issues begin to bite, that’s not really an option in the toy sector – the Far East is where the toys come from and that hasn’t changed even with all the upheaval of the past two years.

“The majority of toys come from China – so that’s where we need to go,” Mr Simpson said. 

Supply chain

A lot of supplies that would normally have arrived from the Far East in September have been subject to delays which have a knock-on effect on getting the goods on the road and out to stores.

The disruption caused by Covid has resulted in a global shortage of shipping containers, and shipping companies have responded by hiking their prices.

Pre-pandemic, a shipping container would have cost around $2,000 but at times that rate has soared as high as $20,000, Alan says.

“That in itself makes price rises inevitable, and that’s one consequence that will filter into 2022 with the cost of living increase. It is what it is – if you want to ship goods, you have to pay the going rate.

“The long and the short is if you’re prepared to pay $20,000 that’s fine but at that point you have to look at it and the impact on the cost at retail would be unjustifiable. So you have to let it sit there and when prices become sensible, you bring it in then.”

However, if you’re shipping TVs or chairs, he says, you might be able to hold off until January or February in case shipping costs go down again – but toys are different.

“Santa comes at Christmas and the toy industry has this in common, that they have that date to work to,” he says.