Brits should be buying toys and gifts “as usual” today while trying to allay fears of Christmas supply chaos.
Tory president Oliver Dowden said he is “confident” people will be able to receive festive gifts and there is no need to go to the stores.
His remarks raised concerns about a shortage of goods such as electronics after the roadblocks at the major port of Felixstowe.
Ministers have been warned that large cargo ships being turned away could lead to gaps on the shelves until Christmas.
The major Suffolk port handles about 40% of containers coming in and out of the UK, many of which come from large manufacturing countries in the Far East.
Pressed on the problem today, Mr Dowden admitted it is “a difficult, worrying time” for Brits who will be “worried” by the reports.
But he insisted: “The situation is improving. I am confident that people will be able to get their toys for Christmas.
“I understand well why people are concerned with these headlines, but we are working through these challenges.”
Asked if people need to receive their gifts earlier this year, he said: “It makes sense to buy when you want.
“Some people buy too early for Christmas and others buy later. I’d say buy as you normally would.”
This comes on top of fears that even the supply of favorite foods such as turkey may run short during the festive period.
Mr Dowden also defended the government’s plan to recruit 5,000 lorry drivers from overseas to help mitigate the crisis.
According to official figures, so far only 300 have applied for temporary visas and only 27 have received them.
But the Tory chief added: “I’m pretty sure that number is going to increase over time.”
He said ministers have “streamlined” the process of training truck drivers in this country and brought in the military to help clear the testing backlog.
His remarks come amid reports that Felixstowe is in a slump and that giant lines of containers are shutting down dockside.
There are not enough lorry drivers to pick up and deliver the load and the key port has become so congested that its dockside is full.
The containers now sit for about ten days before being collected for further transport.
According to the British International Freight Association, this is twice the time it would normally take.
Houlliers believe collections fell 15 to 20 percent in September, leading to a pile-up of 7,500 containers at Britain’s busiest port.
A shipping boss told The Times: “I don’t want to sound like the Grinch, but there’s going to be gaps in the shelves this Christmas.”
Most imported toys come through Felixstowe because they’re non-perishable and it’s cheaper to ship them than to fly them on an airplane.
Electronics, bikes and household items have also reportedly been affected, raising fears that Christmas gifts will be in short supply.
Shipping giant Maersk’s boss Lars Mikel Jensen warned that delays could require retailers to prioritize what they ship in the UK in the coming months.
He added: “Felixstow is one of the top two or three most hit terminals” [globally].
“We have to take some of the larger ships away from Felixstow and relay some of the smaller ships for cargo.”