“This is an urgent issue for our businesses, and it is imperative that [the UK] government takes immediate steps to help mitigate the impact of the driver shortages crisis before the Christmas period,” the British Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) said in an open letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
The letter stressed that action is particularly necessary in the run up to Christmas, “a critical trading period for [the] sector” in the country, where 54% of adults drink alcohol at least once a week, according to research by the UK Parliament.
“Drivers and vehicles are increasingly unpredictable in their arrival times, meaning goods are either not ready or are left waiting for collection,” the letter stressed.
It stated that delivery time in the sector has increased dramatically in recent months, from two to three days to nearly 15 days at present. Costs have also surged by at least 7%.
The letter was signed by 48 major UK firms dealing in wine and liquor, including the UK branches of champagne majors Laurent-Perrier, Moet Hennessy, and Pernod Ricard.
The group complained that shipping times were also up to five times longer now than at the same time last year. The situation may cause price increases for consumers, if the government does not intervene.
Britain has been hit with a dire supply-chain crisis following Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. This brought about lags in shipments due to post-pandemic demand recovery and shortages of lorry drivers amid toughening immigration regulations.