UK

Panicked parents phone toy shops in tears as they try to find the must-have Christmas gifts

Desperate Christmas shoppers have been left in tears after being told must-have gifts for the festive season had already run out amid a global supply chain crisis. 

Panicked parents have reportedly been phoning toy shops in tears as they bid to get ahead of the curve and beat any last-minute rush.

Others have been pictured frantically rushing around shops in Surrey, London and Hertfordshire to stock up on presents to ensure their children’s stockings aren’t empty this year.

But High Street retailers have warned surging customer demand and persistent logistical challenges mean some Christmas gifts are entirely out of stock more than two months before December 25, the i reports. 

Gary Grant, chief executive of The Entertainer toy store chain, predicted top sellers – including Barbie, Paw Patrol and L.O.L Surprise! products were likely to be off the shelves ‘sooner rather than later’.  

But smaller firms have already had to turn frantic parents away, after shipping costs soared a whopping 900 per cent compared to this time a year ago – meaning a £15 toy truck now costs £7 to ship from the Far East, up from 70p a year ago.

Le Toy Van in Surrey, which supplies gifts to Harrods and Selfridges, said they had already experienced people on the phone ‘in tears’ over shortages more than two months before Christmas.

Panicked parents have reportedly been phoning toy shops in tears as they bid to get ahead of the curve and beat any last-minute rush. Pictured: People shopping at Smyths Superstore in St Albans, Herts

A man struggles to carry all of the toys he has bought at Smyths Toy Superstore in St Albans, Herts

A man struggles to carry all of the toys he has bought at Smyths Toy Superstore in St Albans, Herts

Hamleys unveils most wanted Christmas toys 

Toys that encourage imagination in children are tipped to be top sellers this Christmas as parents seek to counter a ‘year on screens’, retailer Hamleys has said.

This year sees the most-wanted toys encouraging role play and creativity and allowing families to play together after last year’s Covid-restricted celebrations, the store said.

The top 10 list includes racing cars, traditional family board games, Playmobil and Lego and the LOL! Movie Magic Dolls, which allow children to play with friends and create their own story lines.

Lego’s Super Mario Adventures with Luigi Starter Course encourages children to team up for real-life social play, while those with dreams of travelling again can turn to the Playshifu AR Globe with interactive and education cultural information.

The annual Hamleys toy predictions come as retailers suggested people who know what their children want this year consider buying early, amid concerns that supply chain issues could lead to some shortages ahead of Christmas.

Hamleys predicted top 10 toys this year are:

  • Playmobil City Action Police Special Operations Police Robot, £20
  • Shifu Orboot (Earth): The Educational AR Globe, £50
  • Magic Mixies Cauldron, £70
  • Mattel – Barbie Dream House, £310
  • LOL Surprise Movie Magic Doll, £11
  • Ralleyz Warrior 3 in 1 RC, £90
  • Lego Super Mario Adventures Luigi Starter Course, £50
  • Hasbro Nerf Elite Flip 2.0 8, £25
  • Huggables Range, £20
  • Hamleys Dicii Snakes and Ladders, £14

The British Toy and Hobby Association, which represents manufacturers, said: ‘We understand people are concerned about shortages and it is a concern we share – we expect continued disruption to delivery schedules in varying degrees over the coming months.’ 

‘Toy manufacturers are working around the clock to face down this unwelcome vortex of logistical challenges to try to ensure their toys arrive and provide the range of choice consumers seek.’

Founder of Le Toy Van, Steve Le Van, said he ordered double the normal stock ahead of Christmas, but has already sold out of popular toys including dolls houses and wooden train sets.

Mr Le Van explained to The i: ‘I’ve had people already on the phone in tears wanting to buy a dolls house.

‘There is still stock coming…Some would have arrived for Christmas but it will be arriving after [because of delays].’

Paul Schaffer, managing director of Plum Play in Lincolnshire, told the i his company was already dealing with delayed shipments of toys and does not expect to have his full inventory before December 25. 

He said: ‘There are certain varieties of trampolines that aren’t coming in, some swing sets aren’t with us yet.’

He added: ‘Everybody’s probably already written their Christmas lists. It’s going to be a very hard job [for parents] managing expectations or perhaps suggesting their children adjust those lists a little.’

Alan Simpson, chairman of the Toy Retailers Association, told MailOnline: ‘It is inevitable that prices are going to rise given the extra costs being incurred by retailers due to exorbitant rises in shipping costs.

‘The large majority of toys are manufactured in the Far East and we have seen freight rates rise beyond belief – in some cases we are paying 10 times what it costs to ship a container now compared to 12 months ago.

‘Suppliers simply cannot absorb this level of increase and price rises are an inevitability. This anomaly is not confined to toys and can be expected to filter through all retail sectors whose product line originates in the Far East.

‘This is simply beyond the control of retailers here in the UK and we are at the mercy of several outside factors.’ 

Small businesses owners said they are already having to increase prices, including Nathan Le-Moine, director of Telford-based educational toys firm Kiddie Kin.

He told MailOnline: ‘Reluctantly, we have already been forced into implementing price increases for our customers. 

‘As with many online retailers, we have been hit with increases from every angle – from higher cost of goods, to additional delivery surcharges. The balance between protecting profits and remaining competitive is becoming a real concern.’ 

Smaller firms have already had to turn frantic parents away, after shipping costs soared a whopping 900 per cent compared to this time a year ago

Smaller firms have already had to turn frantic parents away, after shipping costs soared a whopping 900 per cent compared to this time a year ago

People out stocking up ahead of Christmas at a Smyths toy shop in Slough, Berkshire, today

People out stocking up ahead of Christmas at a Smyths toy shop in Slough, Berkshire, today

A woman pushes a trolley out of a Smyths toy shop in Slough, Berkshire, this morning

A woman pushes a trolley out of a Smyths toy shop in Slough, Berkshire, this morning

It comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps this week warned ‘Christmas might not be a cracker’, amid log-jammed ports, empty shop shelves, looming threats of lorry strikes and experts predicting the cost of Christmas will soar. 

Families have already started panic-buying toys, a major retail boss said, as brands such as Barbie and Lego warned they were selling at ‘Christmas quantities’.

Unions are threatening a winter of discontent, with a wave of strikes over pay and conditions. Unite says it could pull its 50,000 lorry drivers off the road despite the supply chain crisis. 


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