And that too: The world's largest shipping company Maersk no longer heads for the most important British container port of Felixstowe with its large ships, but instead diverts them to the continent.

Felixstowe is clogged with a backlog of containers because there is a lack of truck drivers on the island and workers are stuck in corona quarantine.

Now there is growing concern that the logistics crisis will worsen.

There is already talk of gifts no longer arriving in time for Christmas.

“There will be gaps on the shelves this Christmas,” says a logistics manager.

Philip Plickert

Business correspondent based in London.

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In the southern English port of Felixstowe, 36 percent of the container shiploads for the island are normally unloaded. Toys from Asia, electronics, furniture, bicycles and household appliances arrive here, a total of 2000 ships a year. Maersk manager Lars Mikael Jensen now explained the U-turn: "We had to stop operations because there was no more space to unload the cargo."

The situation is also tense in other seaports around the world, from China to America and Europe.

Hamburg and Rotterdam have also reported at times that ships are jammed.

Felixstowe is one of the three most severely affected terminals in the world, according to Maersk.

Now the shipping company will divert its giant ships to Rotterdam or Antwerp and then transport the cargo to the island in smaller ships.

The detour also costs time and money.

Around 100,000 truck drivers are missing

According to information from Felixstowe, it currently takes up to ten days before loads can be unloaded and transported on to trucks. Boris Johnson's administration tried to allay fears Wednesday. Tory party leader Oliver Dowden called on the British to “shop normally for Christmas”. The situation in the ports is already improving. According to operator Associated British Ports, which owns 21 ports including Cardiff, Hull and Southampton, all of its locations are "currently operating without delays or disruptions". However, reports of traffic jams are increasing. The shortage of drivers is also a problem in the ports of Dover and Portsmouth, through which a lot of food is imported from Europe to Britain.

The logistics crisis has been a constant topic in the UK for several weeks.

Around 100,000 truck drivers are missing, partly because foreigners moved away after Brexit, partly because training courses failed due to the corona, partly because drivers are retiring or looking for other jobs.

The logistics chains are now stretched to tear apart.

At the end of September, the supply at gas stations collapsed for two weeks after millions of drivers stormed the country's gas pumps in panic.

Nine out of ten petrol stations are now filled to normal again, but there are still a few closed petrol pumps, especially in London and in the south-east of the country.

Some families are already buying turkey or roast

The food industry and supermarkets are particularly complaining about the tense delivery situation and rising costs. In many stores, not all shelves are completely full. Sometimes a few pallets of mineral water are missing, sometimes milk bottles; There are also gaps in fresh fruit and vegetables, less often in meat. Managers of the four big supermarket chains Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrison, but also the German rivals Aldi and Lidl, do not want to comment publicly on gaps. Some complain behind closed doors about how they struggle with procurement and delivery bottlenecks. Internally, there are certainly concerns that a storm of customers could overwhelm the markets in the run-up to Christmas. Some families already buy turkey or other roasts and store them in freezers.According to a survey by Grocer magazine, two thirds of the British are concerned that there will be bottlenecks for the festival.

So far, the food crisis that some invoke has been limited.

The ONS statistics office asked 3300 citizens about this at the beginning of October.

The majority (57 percent) reported that they could buy anything they needed.

However, almost half reported a somewhat reduced selection.

One in seven respondents had to visit more than one store to buy everything they needed.

Companies are switching to rail

According to the retail analysts at NielsenIQ, the large supermarkets can keep 98.5 percent of all products in stock in normal times, but this availability rate temporarily fell to 95 to 90 percent. The situation is "a little crazy," says Ben Morrison, head of retail analysts. According to a Nielsen calculation, the four major supermarket chains lost £ 2 billion in sales in the first nine months of the year due to a lack of deliveries. Small shops sometimes remove imported products from Europe from their range because the customs declarations required since Brexit were too time-consuming.

On Wednesday, new August growth figures gave the UK economy some confidence.

The recovery of 7 percent for the year as a whole, which was forecast in the summer, does not appear to be achievable.

In view of the logistics problems on the road, some companies are turning to rail.

The supermarket chain Tesco announced that it will increasingly transport goods by train.

Keywords: truck drivers, felixstowe, associated british ports, ships, maersk, port crisis, shortage, christmas, container port, tesco, logistics crisis, containers, families, england, concern