In a recent BBC article on IKEA’s supply shortages, the Swedish furniture giant went all in on blaming Brexit for their inventory issues:
“What we are seeing is a perfect storm of issues, including the disruption of global trade flows and a shortage of drivers, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic and Brexit.”
The firm goes on to say that “10% of its stock, or around 1,000 product lines” have supposedly been affected by the Brexit-related shortage. In a separate statement given two days later to Dutch newspaper Dagblad van het Noorden, however, an IKEA spokesperson instead cited the exact same product shortage with a different excuse featuring one notable omission:
“There are major logistical problems worldwide. For example, there is a great scarcity of containers and container ships on important sea routes because the economic recovery from the corona pandemic is proceeding faster than expected. There are also congestion in ports due to the crowds and Chinese terminals were temporarily closed due to local corona outbreaks. Many IKEA products are made in China.”
Both articles list the same 10% stock shortage figure, only one mentions Brexit.
Remainers – and some parts of the media enjoying spinning the narrative on their behalf – are refusing to accept the lorry driver shortage is global: iron ore struggles to reach Australian ports; US petrol stations have run out of supplies after a 35,000 fall in lorry drivers; Asia reports a 20% fall in drivers. As the head of policy at the Road Haulage Association said in August:
“Even if we were allowed to recruit drivers from the EU, there’s a shortage of drivers there as well… The only place that doesn’t have a significant shortage of drivers is Africa.”
There are plenty of economic commentators this side of the channel – IKEA’s PR team included – who have more than a few screws loose…