There are few tidings of comfort and joy from the home delivery expert ParcelHero, as it warns kids and retailers alike to be prepared for an Austerity Christmas. It says it’s already too late for new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to reverse the impact of rising household bills, the plummeting pound and supply chain disruption. Brits are set to spend £4bn less this year than last.

David Jinks M.I.L.T., ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, explains why he thinks Christmas cheer will be in short supply this year and warns rising prices and supply chain disruption mean that we are facing an Austerity Christmas as grim as any since World War II.

David says: ‘No one wants to sound like the Grinch, but there are many reasons why we’re unlikely to have a merry Christmas this year. Most obviously, shoppers will have less money to spend in the face of significant energy and mortgage bills.

‘Small wonder that we are likely to spend £4bn less this Christmas than last, according to ParcelHero’s latest research, which closely matches the £4.4bn cut in spending predicted by Retail Economics/Metapack. There’s very little new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be able to do to boost consumer confidence between now and Christmas.

‘Retailers won’t be able to offer tempting discounts either. Many were ordering Christmas stock just as the previous Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, launched his now notorious “KamiKwazi” mini-budget, prompting the pound to plummet against the dollar, the euro and the yen. Retailers therefore paid significantly more for goods from the US, Europe and Japan than they did in 2021. Consequently, they now have less wiggle room for juicy Black Friday and Christmas discounts to tempt shoppers back to the High Street.

‘There are also significant international supply chain disruptions this year. Chinese President Xi Jinping is continuing his zero-Covid policy, with another wave of strict lockdowns that are disrupting global shipments and the manufacture of many popular goods. Lockdowns in key Chinese port cities Ningbo, Shanghai and Tianjin are already hitting worldwide supply chains, which are now entering peak season. As home to over 100 listed companies, Ningbo is one of China’s wealthiest cities. Shipments are stuck and this has also trapped urgently needed empty shipping containers at the port, further disrupting international trade.

‘Closer to home, the UK is still battling the impact of Brexit. With many EU citizens leaving Britain in the wake of the vote, the UK now has its lowest unemployment rate for nearly 50 years. That means there are now significantly fewer workers available for seasonal jobs. With retail giants such as Tesco seeking to employ 15,000 temporary Christmas staff, how will warehouse operators and couriers be able to boost their own recruitment of seasonal staff? Fewer logistics workers mean we could be looking at even longer delivery periods than those experienced at the peak of the pandemic.

‘The icing on the Christmas cake is many of our favourite festive foods will also be more expensive this year. Putin’s war in Ukraine has driven up global food prices, as that part of the world is rightly known as “the world’s breadbasket”. It’s not just bread that’s impacted. Around 32 million hectares of rich farming land has been disrupted, which normally supplies a quarter of the world’s wheat, half of its sunflower products, in addition to soybeans, corn and barley. Everything from Christmas cakes to beer is impacted.

‘Meanwhile, our goose may be cooked when it comes to ordering our Christmas meal. Even the traditional Christmas goose or turkey is under threat because of record cases of avian flu in the UK. Over 3.2m birds have already been culled this year in an urgent bid to stop its spread, according to London Medical Laboratory. This month alone, the Government has ordered that all poultry in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex must be kept indoors, following the rapid spread of the virus.

‘With all this in mind, the UK is facing a blue Christmas, as are many other countries facing similar seasonal challenges. Anyone wanting to brighten Christmas by sending presents overseas can take advantage of currently competitive international delivery rates. We recommend sending gifts early this year. To compare all the leading couriers’ prices for deliveries to the world’s most popular destinations, see https://www.parcelhero.com/en-gb/international-courier-services

By Alison