PANICKED shoppers are already rushing out to buy their Christmas dinner food despite there still being 81 days until December 25.
Supermarkets have reported they have been forced to order in more turkey after sales soared by as much as 409%.
Fears of food shortages are being blamed for the rush to buy festive foods.
A nationwide lorry driver shortage has already led to crisis at the petrol pumps in recent days, with the army now being brought in to help with deliveries.
The Sun recently launched a campaign to recruit HGV drivers to help plug the 100,000 gap.
Now Iceland has reported that sales of frozen turkeys are up 409% year-on-year, and mince pies by 10%. It is launching its range of Christmas joints two weeks earlier than usual to meet demand.
M&S said sales of frozen Christmas food has soared by 500% and that its customers are stocking up much earlier than usual.
Waitrose said searches on its website for Christmas cake and Christmas pudding are 46% higher than a year ago, and searches for Christmas delivery had increased 124%.
But shoppers are being urged not to hoard food and panic buy – there is enough to go around.
That’s despite reports of supermarkets running empty of bread and pasta today.
Experts have warned there will be a “distinct lack of choice” on shop shelves this year, with some festive favourites likely to be in short supply.
But supermarkets have told The Sun they are ramping up efforts to make sure Christmas is a success.
Aldi is hiring more than 1,500 temp staff ahead of its “biggest ever” Christmas and Sainsbury’s has announced its biggest ever recruitment drive with 22,000 temp staff being hired.
Andrew Staniland, trading director at Iceland Foods, said: “We can confidently tell the nation not to worry and to continue shopping frozen.
“Since Christmas was pretty much cancelled in 2020, we have been preparing for much bigger celebrations this time round. We have more of everything, ready for shoppers much earlier.”
Lynn Beattie, of money website Mrs MummyPenny, said: “Christmas this year I fear needs some advance planning. There will more than likely be shortages of all sorts of food, gifts, decorations, so we need to be prepared to start organising earlier.”
Here we look at how you can make sure Christmas 2021 goes without a hitch.
Some experts have predicted there will be a “distinct lack of choice” on supermarket shelves this December. One poultry supplier even claimed that Christmas dinner could be cancelled.
A carbon dioxide shortage is affecting various parts of the supply chain as the gas is used to stun animals before slaughter as well as in food packaging.
What can I do?
Many festive favourites, from mince pies to tins of chocolates, are already available in supermarkets so if there’s a particular Christmas treat you crave, try and buy in advance to avoid disappointment.
Buy your turkey now – you can even cook it now, cut it into portions and freeze them.
Beattie said: “With the turkey, why not buy it now if you are lucky enough to have a big freezer? Or place an order with your local butcher.”
Or you could consider other options – a roast beef makes an amazing Christmas dinner.
Naomi Willis of money blog Skint Dad said: “Although I wouldn’t worry about shortages over the Christmas period, it shouldn’t stop you from preparing in advance – that’s the same every year.”
Of course, with the big day still more than two months away, you’ll need to check the best before dates on any perishable goods or see if you can freeze them.
If you need a bigger freezer for storage, sites like Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and Freecycle often have listings for cheap or free white goods.
The CO2 shortage also means there could be a lack of festive fizz this year.
The gas is needed to put the bubbles in beer and fizzy drinks and last month, the British Soft Drinks Association warned some drinks makers may be down to their last few days supply.
The government was forced to step in and bail out two CO2 plants to get them up and running again.
What can I do?
The CO2 shortage seems to have abated for now, but could rear its head again if more plants struggle with production as gas prices continue to climb.
Fizzy drink lovers could consider investing in a soda maker to create their own drinks at home, but this won’t work for beer or prosecco.
If you’re buying in advance, check the best before date and whether it needs to be stored at a certain temperature.
Jordon Cox, founder of the Coupon Kid, said: “If things do run out of stock, then maybe it’s a good time to make your own Christmas traditions.
“You don’t need to follow the rule book to have a great day even if you’re sipping milk instead of egg nog.”
Driving home for Christmas might not be an option if the fuel shortage isn’t solved before the big day. But petrol retailers are reassuring drivers that deliveries are now getting to forecourts and there is no need to stockpile or panic buy.
Anyone using public transport should try and book their tickets in advance if they want to save money.
A number of train operators have already started selling sought-after festive fares, according to MoneySavingExpert.
What can I do?
You can already book tickets as far in advance as January 4 from LNER, Grand Central Rail and Hull Trains.
Southeastern releases its Christmas tickets on November 5, while Southern and West Midland Railway will start selling theirs in the coming weeks.
Visit your train operator website to find out when tickets will be available for the dates you want to travel.
Splitting your fare, where you break your journey up into smaller parts, can sometimes work out cheaper.
Websites such as splitmyfare.co.uk can help you do this.
If Christmas isn’t complete for you without a real tree, you could be disappointed.
The British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) has warned the HGV driver crisis could mean the 1 to 3 million Christmas trees that are usually imported to the UK won’t make it this year.
And if your back-up plan is to buy an artificial tree, that might not work either.
Some retailers are predicting shortages of these too, with fewer imports from Asia and higher demand from shoppers.
What can I do?
Look for a local grower for a home-grown fir. The BCTGA website has a tool that can help you find a nearby supplier.
And if you’ve got an old artificial tree in the loft or shed, now might be the time to dig it out – retro is all the rage and they last longer than a real one, too.
Beattie said: “Consider homemade decorations too – Hobbycraft has some amazing kits to make crackers, wreaths and baubles.”
The lorry driver shortage is not just affecting supermarkets and high street retailer Next this week warned that shortages could be an issue due to a lack of staff and delivery delays.
What can I do?
Stores are already starting their sales so get prepared ahead of time.
The likes of Tesco and Argos have launched huge toy sales.
You can also keep a check on websites such as Idealo to track prices.
Write a list of gifts you want to buy and make a budget. October is likely the time when you’ll see some good offers. But don’t forget, Christmas isn’t all about presents.
Consider setting up a family secret santa where you each just buy for one person or setting a spending limit so you don’t feel pressured to splash the cash.
Cox added: “Make sure you don’t go for broke just for one day.
“It can be overwhelming and very easy to overspend, but struggling through the next month until pay day is tough so set yourself limits and realistic expectations.”
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