'The range of products on offer will be limited over the Christmas period and long thereafter,' was the stark warning from Klaus Wohlrabe, head of surveys at Munich-based ifo. 'Global logistics is out of sync. Many deliveries are reaching Germany with significant delays.'
On average, companies in the retail sector survey expected the shortages to last another 10 months, with bicycle retailers the most pessimistic, anticipating 18 months of supply problems. Furniture retailers expect supply constraints to last 12.5 months, toy retailers expect supply problems to persist for 11 months, while home improvement stores are predicting 10 more months of disruption to supply.
'Eurozone growth has slowed sharply at the start of the fourth quarter, with manufacturing hamstrung by supply constraints and services losing momentum as the rebound from lockdowns fades,' Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said in his analysis of the October data.
'With supply shortages getting worse rather than better in October, manufacturing growth is likely to remain subdued for some time to come,' he said.
The view that congestion will remain through 2022 is not universally accepted, with Global Shippers' Forum director James Hookham pointing to the possible dampening of demand because of rising consumer inflation levels in developed countries and expectations that most central banks will increase interest rates in 2022.
However, there is little sign of any decreasing demand, and as German manufacturers and retailers struggle to access and transport their imports through a congested logistics chain, the containers continue to arrive at the port of Hamburg.
In the first nine months of this year, Hamburg handled 6.5 million TEU, up three per cent compared with the same period last year and putting Germany's largest gateway on track for 8.7 million TEU for the year compared with 8.5 million TEU in 2020.