Customers are advised to ‘shop early for Christmas’ due to shipping delays caused by Covid-19, the Brexit chaos and the costs of stratospheric freight containers.
The costs of plugged-in containers from China – one of the world’s largest toy markets – have skyrocketed in recent months.
The price of containers has historically been around € 1,100. But the Freight Transport Association of Ireland (FTA) said they are now around € 30,000 each.
Toy store owners say they predict that demand will greatly exceed supply.
Ciarán Fitzpatrick, owner of Banba Toymaster in North Dublin City, said: “We’re going to run out of new (toy) lines as the shipping time from China to UK, where most of our goods, is facing huge delays. . It’s gone crazy.
“Most traders placed orders early, but if I’m looking for new orders in November, there’s a good chance I won’t get them.
“The problem is that a toy could suddenly become a must-have item after being featured on RTÉ. Late toy show end of November, but there may be little chance of getting it.
Inevitably, as the prices of shipping containers increase, the cost is likely to be passed on to the consumer.
“Toy prices are going to go up,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said. “Invariably, everything will go up.
“Suppliers are trying to keep prices down, but as the price of shipping containers has risen so much, stores will have to charge more.
“It’s the last thing we want to do. Hopefully we can wait a while.
Mr Fitzpatrick said his most popular toy would be Lego, but he expected a number of Playmobil toys, including the Starship Enterprise, which retailed for € 460.40 in select online stores, would be a success this Christmas.
“I hope parents will heed the advice and buy the important toys early on,” he said.
Online sales at Banbatoys.ie are already starting to take off for Christmas.
And the store is allowing customers to pay in installments, gifts being withheld if 25pc are prepaid.
It looks like it’s not just toys that are affected, yesterday Marks & Spencer told customers that it would ‘unfortunately’ not be able to offer Irish customers the Christmas food to order this holiday season. .
A spokesperson for M&S said: ‘Brexit has already complicated and delayed the shipment of products to Ireland and there is too much risk that customers will be disappointed if we try to fulfill CFTO orders and they are delayed or not executed. Customers will always be able to buy everything they need for Christmas in our M&S food halls. “
Aidan Flynn, Managing Director of FTA Ireland, said: “The cost of shipping containers has increased uncontrollably due to a shortage of available ships and shipping containers.
“A sea container can cost up to € 30,000. The price may have gone up 20 times in eight months.
However, while the tariffs have led to “massive profits” for shipping container companies, “it has not been passed on to the consumer,” Mr. Flynn said.
“And I would say the prices are increasing daily,” he added.
“We are finding that delays and the choice of what the consumer has implications in the supply chain will now become more expensive. “
Mr Flynn said Covid-19, Brexit, a shortage of truck drivers and the Suez Canal crisis in March, when a ship got stuck in the waterway, created a “perfect storm” in the maritime transport supply chain.
“In March, the Suez Canal ship incident caused chaos and since then prices have risen,” he said.
“This ship only disembarked after five months – causing delays in the system.
“Our expectation as consumers is that you get what you want, when you want it, but that the products you are used to getting come from all over the world.
“The pandemic has disrupted the supply chain and when disrupted it takes time to catch up.
“The situation of the Suez Canal still affects us today.
“And Ireland depends on European and UK connectivity to deliver everything from furniture and garden equipment to Christmas toys.”
Mr. Flynn also pointed to a skills shortage for commercial truck drivers, another reason the supply chain is slowing down.
“The skills shortage is really big,” said Mr. Flynn.
The (ALE) is attempting to address this with a publicly funded apprenticeship, which will launch in January 2022.
“We are all starting to see how important drivers are in delivering the clothes on our backs and the food we eat,” he said.
Smyths Toys has already advised its customers to “shop early for Christmas” due to the global crisis.
Conor Brady, co-owner of Cogs The Brain store in Stephen’s Green shopping center, Dublin, and Cogsthebrainshop.ie, sees a delay in receiving deliveries of toy kitchens to the store.
“At the end of the day, they’re from China, that’s the way the industry is structured,” Brady said.
“We have seen incredible delays in terms of delivery. Suppliers say they won’t have anything for Christmas… Some of our summer toys are only coming now. “It’s frustrating but we have a good range in store because we bought very early. But we predict that we will miss some board games and educational games. We have worked hard to find alternatives.
Mr Brady said the store “had taken a hit on the margin” as a result of the supply crisis.
“Unfortunately, it will be inevitable. We have to increase the prices, but we are competitive in terms of costs, ”he said.
Sharon Keilthy, CEO of Jiminy.ie, a Dublin-based eco-toys website, believes her store will be mainly “isolated” from the crisis because she does not buy most of her inventory in China.
“We are very different from the average toy store,” said Ms. Keilthy, of Raheny.
“Our strategy is to source toys made in Europe and free of plastic, which means we have been isolated. However, our plush toys, made from recycled plastic or organic cotton, are the only things brought from China. And our suppliers tell us we should have ordered in August.
“However, our toy store has 93 plastic-free pieces, so we’re protected. Maybe after crises like this Ireland will start to see incentives to localize manufacturing. “