Retailers feel impact of Red Sea disruption

More than half of UK retailers and exporters have been impacted by disruption to shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi militant rebel groups, a new report from the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) has found.

Almost two fifths (37 per cent) of more than 1,000 firms surveyed overall for the research said they had been impacted – with exporters, manufacturers and B2C businesses (which include retailers and wholesalers) far more likely to report an impact, the BCC said.

Firms surveyed cited issues including increased costs, with some reporting rises of 3,000 per cent for container hire. Others pointed to logistical delays which added up to three to four weeks to delivery times.

These factors, the report notes, are creating knock-on effects such as cashflow difficulties and component shortages on production lines.

William Bain, head of trade policy at the BCC, said that the organisation is calling for the establishment of an Exports Council to “hone the UK’s trade strategy and a review of the effectiveness of government funding for export support.”

He said: “Overseas trade is vital to growing our economy. We must do everything we can to see businesses through these tough times, and then set a laser-sharp focus on expanding exports for the future.”

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