As the HGV driver shortage continues to cause chaos for supply chains across the UK, hitting everything from supermarkets to petrol stations, Christmas tree retailers have emerged as the latest industry to raise concerns ahead of the festive season.
The perfect storm of Covid, Brexit and the number of retiring drivers have all been cited as reasons for the problems, with the Road Haulage Association saying the 100,000 more HGV drivers are needed to meet demand in the UK.
It was previously reported that the UK could face a real Christmas tree shortage in the wake of these problems.
Families may think they can avoid the issue by buying an artificial tree, but online home store Christow has warned that it may be easier said than done.
Josh Piercy told The Times that, despite ordering back in January, only 60% of the artificial trees Christow has ordered have been supplied so far due to production problems in a factory in Asia.
“They are manufactured in Vietnam and they had all sorts of Covid restrictions there,” he said.
This, coupled with the shipping industry's delays, congestion at Britain's ports and the shortage of lorry drivers means there could be a significant shortage, though Mr Piercy said he was "hopeful we'll be able to satisfy our customers.”
According to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA), the UK buys around eight to 10 million real Christmas trees a year, importing between one and three million of those from other European countries.
Christmas tree retailer ChristmasTrees.co.uk says that difficulties getting real trees into Britain from abroad is likely to give rise to a festive shortage.
The company adds that it is 'harder than ever' to find the labour needed to look after and harvest trees.
Mark Rofe, owner of the online store, told BirminghamLive : “We’ve spoken to our UK growers and they are all facing the same challenges.
"They are seeing an increase in demand for their product, especially from clients who would usually import their trees from Europe, but are keen to avoid any red-tape that could increase costs or cause delays for what is of course a highly seasonal and time-sensitive business."
Mark added: "Our main grower supplies the market with 100,000 Christmas trees each year and employs between 50 and 70 workers during the peak of the season.
"In previous years they were reliant on foresters, mostly from Eastern Europe who would come over for the harvest and then would return to their home country afterwards, but since the Brexit transition, they just aren’t able to come over to work now.
"They have found it a real challenge to cover their workforce with local labour."
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