Kingston shoppers are not ‘panicking about presents’ this year

Store bosses are warning about the shortages of popular Christmas gifts this year and have advised parents to start buying earlier than usual.

There are concerns when it comes to buying gifts for Christmas this year because of the recent shortage of lorry drivers, the supply chain crisis and regulations following Brexit which have left supermarkets and retailers trying to adjust to the change.

Amid the concerns, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak was confident enough to tell the British public “Don’t panic about presents,” but last minute shopping will not be a possibility this year.

This year, the Bentall’s Christmas shop in Kingston ran out of some stock in November due to a shortage of drivers and the people who came in rushing to buy a bunch of Christmas stock. 

Workers in the store have said they have some stock now after a small shipment however, it’s not December yet and they are already running low on Christmas-tailored products. 

One retail worker said: “People who panic buy are stupid [but] a lot of that is to do with the media.” She said the way the media reports on the crisis sends people into a frenzy, leading to panic buying. 

“When the fuel crisis happened – not even a crisis – I saw an article that said ‘why you should panic’. Well now people are going to panic because they’ve seen that article,” she said. 

Her colleague said that the fuel shortage was scarier than a food shortage because she didn’t understand the long queues of people rushing to get petrol, adding that the same thing happened towards the beginning of the pandemic when everyone was panic-buying toilet roll.

“Some people can’t afford to fill up on those items and it’s not fair on them because they can’t buy their supplies since everyone else is rushing to buy all their stuff in one go,” she said.

With the issues surrounding fuel, the food industry and rising gas prices, the UK is set to face a ‘winter of discontent’.

Speaking to the BBC Sunak said: “We’re doing absolutely everything we can to mitigate some of the challenges.”  To avoid panic buying across the country, it is expected of supermarkets and retailers to bring their Christmas sales forward to avoid shortages and panic-buying early.

He said he was “confident there will be a good amount of Christmas presents available for everyone to buy”.

The SNP recently accused Sunak of ignoring the warnings from the industry and for failing to take some form of action after Brexit. Drew Hendry, SNP trade spokesperson said: “Rishi Sunak’s claims are patently false. Tory ministers repeatedly ignored industry warnings and have failed to take the action required to mitigate Boris Johnson’s disastrous hard Brexit.”

The head of UK Steel said that the government had created a “hostile environment” for the industry, which the chancellor rejected.

This year the cost of toys and tech has risen in terms of getting supplies to the UK. Around 70 per cent of these things are made in China.

The effects that the pandemic had on the international supply chains’ shipping charges this year means they are now ten times higher.

The Toy Retailers Association said in early September that shoppers would struggle to find the goods and services expected, come December. CEO of The Entertainer Gary Grant has warned that this Christmas time it will be more difficult to receive stock because of the delays at the UK ports.

Hollister in the Bentall’s Centre, Kingston, however, isn’t worried because not many shoppers have come in panic buying yet but a lot have come in asking about discounts. 

The manager said: “We’re fine at the moment because we over-ordered a lot of stock.” Which they ordered because they were worried about Brexit and the shipping delays.

Chief Executive of the Food and Drink Federation Ian Wright had also warned last month that supply problems could and will only get worse from here following the effects on the pandemic.

The build-up of cargo waiting to be delivered is being blamed on the shortage of lorry drivers and lack of space in distribution centres and warehouses. He mentioned that it is not the government’s job to change the prices of individual products. Sunak said they couldn’t fix every single issue, but he is “confident” enough that shelves will be stocked during Christmas.  

One shopper, however, is not completely worried about having a traditional Christmas. She is mostly worried about being able to buy gifts for her son because she wants to make sure his Christmas isn’t spoiled. Adults not so much because they understand that it may not be possible this year.

In terms of having a traditional Christmas Dinner she mentioned that she doesn’t “go wild” over it, because for her it’s more of a “family thing,” so she’s not panicking over food, saying “what ever we can get we’ll eat.”

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