The global shipping crisis has led to predictions that UK shops will be bereft of toys from Asia this Christmas if they aren't already on the water.
Their potential absence would be felt keenly — so the revelation on Friday of Hamleys' predicted top 10 toys for the 2021 festive period is aptly timed (gallery above).
Over £2.2 billion ($3bn) worth of toys and games were imported into the UK from Asia in 2019, according to data analysts Statista. This figure dwarfed imports from other regions, with the EU the next biggest source at £769 million.
Unless Father Christmas really picks up the slack and obviates the need to go by water, Asian imports look certain to be somewhat diminished this year.
The average door-to-door transit time for ocean cargo to the UK from Asia has risen to more than 70 days, from about 55 a year ago, according to Hong Kong-based Freightos, an online shipping marketplace.
The Entertainer not entertained by delays
Gary Grant, founder and executive chairman of UK toy shop The Entertainer, said he currently has 30 containers stuck at Felixstowe which are incurring storage costs.
“One container alone has already cost me 1,300 pounds ($1,777) in storage costs,” Bloomberg quoted him as saying.
“Some of my containers have been stuck at [the UK's largest shipping port] Felixstowe for three weeks when ordinarily we would clear them within two days.
“So our costs are rising as we can’t get the containers out and it’s slowing down the availability of stock.”
While UK retailers are still dealing with the fears and frustrations spawned by Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, Hamleys' top 10 list of Christmas toys has been curated as a balm after celebrations last year were curtailed by Covid restrictions.
It has been designed to foster role play and 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 storylines.
“Our 2021 top picks for the most wanted toys this Christmas include accessible toys that will really allow children to harness their creativity and imagination,” said Victoria Kay, head of buying at Hamleys.
“From the innovative and creative to the digital and classic toys on offer, we can see imagination really playing its part this year, bringing in-person 'together-play' back for the festive season.
“Creating Christmas magic feels more important this year than ever, and we think the top 10 toys will have families playing and creating memories together for Christmas and beyond.”
Hamleys' predicted top 10 toys
1. Playmobil City Action Police Special Operations Police Robot
2. Shifu Orboot (Earth): The Educational AR Globe
3. Magic Mixies Cauldron
4. Mattel — Barbie Dream House
5. LOL Surprise Movie Magic Doll
6. Ralleyz Warrior 3 in 1 RC
7. Lego Super Mario Adventures Luigi Starter Course
8. Hasbro Nerf Elite Flip 2.0 8, £25
9. Huggables Range, £20
10. Hamleys Dicii Snakes and Ladders, £14