Retailers warned of festive drinks shortages as delivery fears mount
Retailers are being warned that supplies of alcohol brands are being hit by continuing driver shortages – presenting a major threat to festive drinks business.
The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) is calling on transport secretary Grant Shapps to take “urgent action” over supply chain disruption and is warning that some of the nation’s favourite drinks could disappear from shelves this Christmas.
48 of the UK’s wine and spirit businesses put their names to a letter, penned by the WSTA and sent last week, after rising costs and supply chain chaos have held up wine and spirit deliveries.
The letter says: “it is imperative that the government takes immediate steps to help mitigate the impact of the driver shortages before the Christmas period”.
The association claims imports of drinks are now taking up to five times longer than last year before Brexit.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “There is mounting concern among our membership that unless urgent action is taken, we will fall deeper into delivery chaos.
“We are already seeing major delays on wine and spirit delivery times, which is pushing up costs and limiting the range of products available to UK consumers.
The government needs to be doing all it can to ensure British business is not operating with one hand tied behind its back over the festive season and beyond.”
The association is calling on the transport secretary to extend the temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers from overseas and to improve transport routes to speed up supplies in the period leading up to Christmas.
It claims costs for suppliers have increased by about 7% as freight forwarders try to retain drivers with higher wages.
The WSTA adds that “frustrated companies have found that drivers and vehicles are increasingly unpredictable in their arrival times, meaning goods are either not ready or are left waiting for collection”.
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