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Five items in short supply


Shortages of patio furniture, building materials, cardboard and other packaging are causing headaches for businesses and consumers as summer looms.

A combination of issues – including port delays due to Covid measures, an increase in online orders during closures, the burden of Brexit paperwork, and the disruption of the Suez Canal – has increased competition for space. shipping containers and delayed delivery times.

1. Garden furniture: “We must use camping chairs”

Richard is waiting for his new garden furniture

Richard from Ilkley in West Yorkshire and his family are content with camping chairs after his garden furniture order was delayed.

He’s still waiting for a corner sofa, a glass table, and three stools from furniture company Mattressman.

He paid £ 839 up front in March and was told the furniture would arrive on May 6.

“After contacting the company again to try to establish what was going on, we discovered that the furniture had arrived but was in a shipping container, so we could not get a delivery date.”

Richard, who has now been told his order will not arrive until August, said he was “very disappointed and upset”.

Mattressman spokesperson told the BBC: “This is an industry-wide shipping issue and we are working closely with many suppliers to provide as much clarity as possible. “

Logistics app founder Annalize Davis said of the products she monitors, up to 94% experience “extreme” port delays from mainland China.

More positive Covid cases have been identified in places such as Shenzhen, leading to stricter coronavirus measures at ports, according to a Maersk advisory.

2. Building materials: “I know delays from all angles”

Chris Nutley, a Sussex-based building contractor, has been waiting for more than five months for an order to finish a new kitchen in his home.

“I am experiencing delays from all angles right now, professionally and personally,” he said.

Building materials are scarce in the UK, putting additional pressure on construction companies.

Mr Nutley’s company faces long waits for oak and timber imports due to a backlog of foreclosures and logistics issues related to Brexit.

“There are currently more chances to buy an overpriced bag of cement on the Facebook Marketplace than from the regular merchant,” Chris said.

Alex Veitch, chief policy officer at Logistics UK, said he was not surprised to learn there were supply chain issues, but said this was mainly due to the fact that companies had to deal with additional administration.

“The paperwork required for these products is here to stay due to Brexit.”

“Looking at the evidence for border flow, goods flow well, but it’s usually small businesses that have less experience with paperwork or have more complicated product ingredients that suffer more,” he said. .

But Mr Veitch said the blockages caused by the Suez Canal traffic jam and container delays between Europe and China were short-term issues that should be resolved in a matter of weeks.

3. Outdoor equipment: “We pay $ 14,000 for shipping, compared to $ 2,500”

Camping and outdoor clothing also experienced delays. Rab and Lowe Alpine chief executive Matt Gower said the company was “pretty badly affected”.

“Shipments that used to take four weeks now take eight and many don’t even sail to the UK anymore.”

“Last June we paid $ 2,500 (£ 1,800) per 40ft container, now we are paying $ 14,000.”

Mr Gower said the price of the products is expected to increase in the spring due to this additional transportation cost.

4. Cardboard boxes: “We have moved to plain brown stock boxes”

The Popcorn Shed popcorn wholesaler has been having supply issues since January.

“We are unable to obtain branded printed corrugated cardboard boxes from our UK suppliers,” said manager Sam Feller.

Before Covid and Brexit, branded boxes would arrive three or four weeks after the initial order, but now “delivery dates are nothing like when the order comes in,” Feller said.

Often the delays have come with a price hike because the cardboard box makers say they can’t get the usual materials.

“The Brexit delays and the Covid issues have resulted in a perfect storm,” Mr Feller said.

“We’ve moved to plain brown stock boxes and we’re also bigger, which means more pollution and waste.”

5. Packaging: “We had to use larger size trays”

Sushi restaurant Chisou

Chisou Sushi Restaurant uses larger platters

Sushi restaurant Chisou also had to deal with packaging shortages.

Its five locations in central London have mostly switched to take-out during shutdowns, but the price for a tray and cover has dropped from 15 pence to 20 pence to £ 1.

“We often use between 300 and 400 of these units per day per restaurant, so we cannot afford this increase,” said David Leroy, founder and CEO of Chisou.

After using the same take-out packaging suppliers for more than 20 years, Mr Leroy said he spent hours researching alternatives but four out of five of them were out of stock.

“We had to use larger sized platters as that’s all we can find, but it can cause problems during delivery as the food can move around and we don’t want to start getting complaints,” he said.

Before the closures, Chisou had tried switching to paste and cardboard trays as it was more durable, but had to stay with the plastic trays.

“We wanted to choose a packaging option that is better for the planet, but we have to continue as a company,” adds Leroy.

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