Reports are emerging of severely reduced courier capacity, which is likely to affect delivery services until Christmas.
It has been widely predicted for some time that there would be severe capacity issues across courier and delivery services in the run-up to Christmas. Evidence is now emerging which illustrates just how severe the shortages might be between now and Christmas.
Toy World was recently contacted by Howard Shaw of Chester Toy Wholesalers in Colwyn Bay, who has first-hand experience of severe restrictions currently being placed on shipments by courier companies. The move is already believed to be provoking a strong reaction on Amazon seller forums, while independent toy retailers will be concerned that it restricts a key potential sales channel in the run up to Christmas.
Howard told Toy World: “DPD has just introduced an unannounced cap on collections. We had 59 cartons booked to ship with them on Friday – a fairly regular amount for this time of the year. However, after initially loading the van, the driver started unloading our parcels, saying: “I’m sorry, my sheet shows you have a limit of eight cartons.” Luckily most of our shipments are sent on pallets, but it doesn’t help get smaller orders out to retailers when they introduce drastic limits like this with no warning. To add insult to injury, we voided the non-collected (but scanned) transactions, but they were still invoiced – although obviously that will be sorted.
“I spoke to our DPD account manager today – she was apparently unaware that this limit had been introduced. She has since confirmed that these limits are in place for most days through to Christmas. From a personal point of view, most of our orders have been shipped by now, but I feel for those independent retailers selling online, as this is just another major obstacle to overcome.”
Toy World has reported on shipping and haulage companies complaining of “chaos” at UK ports, particularly at Felixstowe. Freight manager Matt Hudson warned that the issues were “delaying freight going into shops for consumers to buy.”
With retail stores about to reopen, it is hoped that any difficulties can be ironed out swiftly so that physical toy stores can be as fully stocked as possible at the crucial selling time. Retailers who planned ahead and brought in Christmas stock prior to lockdown on the advice of suppliers will reap the benefits now, although getting the right balance of the right stock may yet prove to be a challenge. Stores have not always received the goods ordered, with The Entertainer, for example, having its November delivery of Lego cut back to 40% of stock requested.
Shoppers, as well as retailers, may also face delivery backlogs. Although they have been urged to shop early for Christmas, recent lockdowns across the UK, coupled with Black Friday online offers, have encouraged more to shop online, putting supply chains and delivery networks under severe strain.
Retailers are under added pressure to get deliveries right, with the last leg of supply chains proving critical in determining whether shoppers would use the particular store again.