Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak assured Britons on Thursday that “a good amount of Christmas presents” will be available amid concerns that supply chain issues may lead to empty shelves.
Retailers have been urging people to buy their Christmas gifts early after a shipping company decided to divert their freight from the port of Felixstowe due to backlogs at the port, while logistic bosses said people didn’t need to worry about Christmas over short-term fluctuations as the global supply chain is “pretty robust.”
Speaking to the BBC in Washington after meeting with finance ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) nations, the chancellor said the governments are “doing absolutely everything” they can to “mitigate some of these challenges.”
“They are global in nature so we can’t fix every single problem but I feel confident there will be good provision of goods for everybody,” Sunak said.
“I’m confident there will be a good amount of Christmas presents available for everyone to buy.”
The G7 ministers have agreed during the meeting to work more closely to solve the supply chain issues.
Ports in the United States have also been dealing with backlogs of goods recently, with U.S. President Joe Biden announcing on Wednesday that the port of Los Angeles would begin operating around the clock, weeks after the Port of Long Beach made a similar move.
Danish shipping giant Maersk told The Financial Times on Tuesday that the port of Felixstowe was among two or three worst-hit terminals in the world as shortages of heavy goods vehicle drivers in the UK meant it takes longer to move cargo out of the ports.
Sunak chaired a meeting of finance ministers on Wednesday as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank convene in the U.S. capital.
The Treasury said Sunak told the meeting of the “importance of global co-operation to ensure that supply chains are more resilient as the world emerges from the pandemic.”
Speaking after the meeting, Sunak said, “Supply chain issues are being felt globally, and finance leaders from around the globe must collaborate to address our shared challenges.
“Today we have collectively agreed to work closely over the coming months—and together we will build a strong and resilient recovery,” he said.
Helen Dickinson, head of the British Retail Consortium, which represents the sector, said a recent poll of chief executives found that three out of five plan price rises later this year due to soaring supply chain costs.
Speaking during a visit to a Sheffield steel plant, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the government should’ve crafted a plan “months ago to deal with these problems.”
PA contributed to this report.