Rishi Sunak 'confident' there will be Christmas presents in shops despite supply chain issues

Rishi Sunak says the shelves will be stocked with Christmas gifts. Credit: PA

Rishi Sunak said he is "confident" there will be a "good amount of Christmas presents" available to buy in shops despite a series of supply chain issues.

The chancellor moved to assure Britons as retailers expressed fears ongoing supply woes, exacerbated by lorry driver shortages, will push up prices and result in empty shelves over the festive season.

But Mr Sunak blamed global issues for the chaos and admitted the government "can't fix every problem".

The Chancellor spoke after meeting with G7 finance ministers to talk about supply concerns, with the politicians agreeing to work more closely to solve the crisis.

“I tell people they should be reassured we’re doing absolutely everything we can to mitigate some of these challenges," he told the broadcasters.

“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.

“I’m confident there will be a good amount of Christmas presents available for everyone to buy.”

He added that the government is working to "remove blockages where we can" and pointed to the visa scheme allowing foreign HGV drivers to work in the UK until Christmas - plans that have been blasted by industry bosses and European workers.

The chancellor's comments came after a build-up of cargo at Britain's busiest port, Felixstowe, led to shipping company Maersk having to divert vessels away from the Suffolk port leading to fresh concerns over Christmas deliveries.

ITV News exclusively reported the issue earlier this week, with IKEA, Nestle and General Foods all confirming they had been impacted.

ITV News Business and Economics Editor Joel Hills reported on Monday on the logjam at Felixstowe port

Similar logjams have also been seen elsewhere in the world including in the US.

Chief executive of the UK Major Ports Group said “there’s no need to panic” and that supply chains were “pretty robust”.

“There’ll be short-term fluctuations, but retailers, their suppliers, all the logistics companies that work in between the manufacturing and the sales side will be working really, really hard to keep supplies moving.”

But some retailers have advised shoppers to buy their gifts early, while several supermarkets and retailers are understood to be looking at bringing forward Christmas sales by up to a month in a bid to avoid empty shelves in December.

Marks and Spencer and Iceland said they have seen frozen Christmas food sales jump by up to 500% this year, compared to last, as Britons prepare early for the 25th to avoid disappointment.

Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Iceland said it had upped turkey orders by 20% and its full range of Christmas meats will be available two weeks earlier to cope with the demand, while neither believed there would be a shortage of products.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr 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.”