Britain faces Christmas present shortage but turkeys are 'safe'

Shoppers could face problems ticking off their Christmas list – but turkeys are ‘safe’, Downing Street said today.

The traditional bird is still set to be stuffed and served up at family festive feasts across the nation.

However, ‘individual sectors’ continue to experience ongoing supply issues, Number 10 said – meaning there might be fewer gifts from Father Christmas this year.

Boris Johnson and ministers discussed potential supply chain issues, together with winter pressures on the NHS, at a Cabinet meeting on Monday morning.

The Prime Minister admitted in October how he was told months earlier that the UK’s supply chain could be in major trouble – and shortages could remain until after Christmas.

The warnings over Christmas presents come as the UK endured a string of shortages this year, from petrol and pasta to Nintendo Switches and Walkers Crisps.

Now Greggs’ vegan sausage rolls have been revealed as the latest popular product to fall foul of the crisis.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Stephen Barclay, told ministers how the nation faces a ‘dual challenge’ – managing pressure brought by the colder and wetter months alongside the ongoing pandemic and its knock-on effects on global supply chains and energy supply.

But Mr Barclay noted how the government had ‘alleviated concerns over potential turkey shortages in the run-up to Christmas’, the PM’s spokesman said.

When quizzed about whether the government could guarantee there would be presents under Christmas trees, the spokesman insisted: ‘We remain confident that we are taking the right action to deal with the supply challenges that we are seeing globally.

‘That’s not to say that individual sectors won’t face some issues, as will be seen in other countries.’

Mr Barclay did not reveal which sectors could be affected ‘but we have obviously seen individual companies come forward and talk about the challenges they are facing’, the spokesman added.

Mr Johnson stressed the importance of continuing to work ‘with industry on the supply chain issues that we are seeing across the globe’, Downing Street said.

The meeting was held as the British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned how, despite a ‘gargantuan effort’ to ensure essential food and gifts are ready for December 25, shops continue to be ‘dogged’ by ongoing supply chain problems.

BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson, last week said labour shortages are to blame for increased prices and gaps on the shelves.

It comes as an investigation revealed that up to half of toys bought from third-party sellers online are ‘not safe for kids’.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) and the Royal Society for The Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have urged people to be cautious, as a joint probe found out of the 255 randomly selected toys inspected and tested, 88 per cent were illegal to sell in the UK and 48 per cent were unsafe.

Products entering the country during the holiday period will be subject to inspections by trading standards professionals.

But authorities face an enormous ongoing task to get dangerous products delisted and removed from online retailers, due to the sheer volume of products sold on the global market place.

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John Herriman, Chief Executive at CTSI, urged the public to be ‘vigilant’ and check the safety information and origin of products.

‘Many people are especially looking forward to these Christmas holidays after the unprecedented challenges of the past 18 months that the pandemic brought.

‘They don’t want the threat of unsafe toys entering their households.’

Kerri Atherton, head of public affairs at BTHA, added: ‘In the lead up to Christmas, we would advise people to exercise caution when purchasing via an online marketplace by researching into the third-party seller, as often they are not held accountable for the safety of their products.’

Meanwhile a third of small business owners have predicted their best festive season in five years after a post-pandemic spending splurge.

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