[/news/tesco/index.html Tesco] was today accused of 'grossly irresponsible scaremongering' and encouraging pre-Christmas panic-buying after announcing they are stockpiling in case of a No Deal Brexit as Covid-19 strangled imports of Christmas presents via the UK's snarled-up ports.
Britain's biggest retailer is building up stores of long-life food such as pasta or tins and has warned of months of fresh food shortages in 2021 as [/news/boris_johnson/index.html Boris Johnson] struggles to find a way through the deadlock in trade negotiations with Brussels.
John Allan, the chairman of Tesco, believes the average shopping bill could go up five per cent and also claimed French cheeses like brie could be 40 per cent more expensive if there is no EU trade deal. But critics have said there is plenty of British brie to eat and the UK is already importing 20 per cent less cheese from abroad every year.
Mr Allan, who joined the supermarket last year, said: 'Tesco is getting ready for the worst case which is a No Deal, trying to ensure as much as we can that we stockpile long life products either in our warehouses or with our suppliers. We are trying to minimise the risk of food being caught in what is probably going to be the most difficult place, which is the port of Dover.
'We may have some shortages of fresh foods, particularly short life fresh foods.
I think that will only be for a limited period, a month or two before we get back to normal. There might just be slightly restricted choice for a period of time'.
But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested Tesco is spreading panic among consumers about Britain leaving the EU and said: 'Scare stories about cupboards running bare are nonsense'. He also denied claims made by Mr Allan that food prices could rise by five per cent across the board after January 1, adding: 'We only only get 30 per cent of food from the EU.
Stockpiling is a normal part of business' before describing tariffs as 'bumps along the road'.
Tesco's gloomy predictions came amid chaos in the global shipping industry caused by the [/news/coronavirus/index.html coronavirus] pandemic and kynghidongduong.vn a surge in demand for Christmas imports threatening the delivery of presents.
Must-have gifts such as Apple Airpod earphones and Sony PS5s are increasingly hard to find due to supply chain problems from covid-hit China, Vietnam and Japan. While children's bikes and toys such as Barbie dolls, Peppa Pig toys and Paw Patrol merchandise are also hit while certain Lego sets are also more difficult to find because of supply issues and increased demand.
Gary Grant, of The Entertainer, Britain's largest independent toy retailer, saying deliveries are now three weeks behind schedule with just 15 days until Christmas Day.
While Derek Crookes, of the Toy Retailers Association, said: 'There is still stock on shelves but some lines may face shortages. In previous Christmases some toys have run out because they are really, really popular but this year a lot of different lines are running low and might run out entirely before new stock arrives in January.'
With Brexit looming, Tesco insists families could face shortages of some foods next month if new customs checks cause delays.
But Mr Raab told LBC today that the delays at ports are clearly Covid-caused rather than Brexit-related.
One critic said: 'Anyone else think that Tesco are being grossly irresponsible in announcing they are stockpiling? We'll find empty supermarket shelves, when there's absolutely no call for it'.
Another said: 'Well done Tesco advertising the fact there could be shortages. What do you think the public are going to do now? Very irresponsible of you to cause panic buying, but you know what your doing don't you!' One shopper said: 'Tesco stockpiling for fear of shortages??.....
Exactly what they told everyone not to do at the beginning of lockdown'.
Tesco boss John Allan says the supermarket is stockpiling food and fears shortages if Boris Johnson fails to get a deal with the EU
A shopper noticed these rationing labels on essential items such as nappies and pasta in the Tesco store in Ely, Cambridgeshire today, but the supermarket says it has been in place since late September.
They said while restrictions are in place for baby wipes, nappies are not restricted and the sign was placed on the shelf in error
Freight traffic builds at the entrance to the ferry terminal in Dover, Kent, today as Britain's ports are choked due to delays with container traffic
Imports from Europe have also been disrupted, with large queues of lorries outside the port and tour thác bản giốc từ hà nội Channel Tunnel today (pictured is the coastbound A20)
Lorries and other freight vehicles queue on the motorway on the way into the port of Dover today as Brexit looms
Shoppers were unhappy with Tesco and accused them of ramping up fears of shortages that will spark panic buying again
Lorries queue for the Port of Dover along the A20 in Kent as the Dover Traffic Access Protocol is implemented due to high volumes of freight traffic today
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<div class="art-ins mol-factbox news halfRHS" data-version="2" id="mol-674288b0-3ab4-11eb-85b7-a365e3fa0539" website is stockpiling food for 'worst-case scenario' of No Deal Brexit