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Campers urged to act fast to beat tent shortage

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Britain is facing a tent shortage caused by a “perfect storm” of Covid, Brexit and the huge global demand for camping equipment.

Manufacturers have struggled to get new stock into shops and as a result some customers have faced long delays in having their orders supplied, post-lockdown.

Demand for tents and outdoor gear has never been higher, with the restrictions on foreign travel encouraging more people than ever to turn to camping for their summer holidays.

Most camping equipment is made in the Far East and as a result of pandemic-related factory shutdowns and worker shortages, production has been dramatically curtailed over the last year.

The global shortage of shipping containers has also affected the transportation to Europe – and that was only worsened by the closure of the Suez Canal earlier this year. Brexit red tape issues have added to the UK supply chain problems.

And as a result, retailers who would normally have enough stock to keep them going throughout the season only have a handful of tents left in their warehouses, leading to fears there could be shortages later in the summer.

One shop owner said: “The cost of shipping means some manufacturers will decide that some products will be too costly to even bring into the country and some won’t be able to get their products over at all.

“There’s a good chance it will mean price increases and shortages of product are highly possible. When you add the worldwide issues caused by coronavirus and the massive demand for outdoor leisure products, I would say this is the year to buy early if you can.”


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Andrew Denton, Chief Executive of the Outdoor Industries Association, said a “perfect storm” of events had put huge strain on the supply chain.

He said: “Firstly the Covid issue meant disruption in manufacturing in the Far East – staff, logistics, factory closures and factories switching to make PPE; these factors all impacted on production.

“Then shipping experienced its own Covid-related crisis, which meant many containers were not in the right ports at the right time, container prices went up, people were scrambling to ship PPE faster and the entire distribution system strained.

“As we pulled out of lockdown last summer the demand then on camping and outdoor products went through the roof, so in a time when ordering was cautious, supply and distribution constrained, suddenly demand was greater than any previous year.”

Mr Denton said the Brexit deal was not “what we expected or wanted” and was bringing “confusion and uncertainty” both in the UK and Europe. Increased red tape after Brexit had also “added a significant layer of complexity and cost” to the distribution of products, he said.

Mr Denton added: “So, all in all you have multiple layers of challenge – with the Suez blockage adding short term issues – meaning supply will be severely disrupted for months, and challenging to retailer and brand alike.”


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