Ikea is sounding the alarm on potential delays in product availability as rebel assaults on vessels intensify along the Red Sea trade route. Houthi militants in Yemen, with support from Iran, have increased their use of drones and rockets to target ships since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict in October. The resulting disruptions have compelled companies to redirect cargo around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, extending shipping durations significantly.
An Ikea spokesperson highlighted that the situation in the Suez Canal might lead to delays and potential shortages for specific products. The company is actively seeking alternative measures to counteract these challenges and ensure its products remain accessible to customers.
Research firm Project 44 estimates that bypassing the Suez Canal could add up to 10 days to shipping routes, potentially causing empty shelves by February. Beyond product delays, the extended voyages contribute to heightened shipping costs, a factor that may influence consumer prices.
Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, noted that while the ongoing crisis might not impact the holiday season due to products already present in the UK, there could be longer shipping times for goods in the foreseeable future.
Xeneta, a shipping analytics firm, forecasts an additional cost of $1 million per journey between Asia and Northern Europe, suggesting potential price implications for consumers. Other companies, such as Electrolux and Danone, are closely monitoring the situation, with some establishing task forces to address possible disruptions.
The attacks in the Red Sea have prompted the U.S. to initiate an international naval operation for ship protection, with several nations participating. However, the uncertainty surrounding the resumption of Red Sea usage poses challenges for shipping firms, indicating that disruptions may persist.