In short supply: Suez growls, a virus hits the British gnome market – FRANCE 24

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London (AFP)

Strong demand during the lockdown and supply problems following the blockade of the Suez Canal have caused a shortage of garden gnomes in Britain, the BBC reported on Thursday.

The little bearded figures – often with a trowel or fishing rod in their hand or sitting under a mushroom – have been popular with British gardeners since the 19th century.

But following last month’s rumble in Suez, caused by a 200,000-ton megaship stuck in a sandstorm, supplies for small garden keepers ran dry.

Many decorative ornaments, which can be plastic, stone, or concrete, have been left languishing in shipping containers.

Garden Center Association chief executive Iain Wylie said supply chains had been under pressure during the pandemic and due to the blockage of the channel.

“With goods arriving from overseas, garden centers have been affected by the ship’s blockage in the canal as much as any other industry,” he told the broadcaster.

“Garden furniture, ornaments, including some gnomes, being stuck in containers trying to get here.”

Ian Byrne, of Highfield Garden World in Gloucestershire, west England, said there had been a “massive increase” in gnome sales during the coronavirus lockdown.

“Unfortunately we haven’t seen a gnome for six months now,” said the deputy director, blaming a shortage of raw materials.

“Gnomes of any type – plastic, stone or concrete – are rare. They have been very popular over the past two seasons. ”

Swedish furniture giant Ikea said last month it had also experienced supply issues due to high demand and shipping issues.

The gigantic container ship Ever Given was stranded on March 23, triggering a gigantic six-day effort to dislodge it.

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Shipping data company Lloyd’s List said the blockade by the ship, which is longer than four football pitches, was holding around $ 9.6 billion (£ 7 billion, € 8 billion) in freight between the Asia and Europe every day he was stranded.

Britain took an important step on Monday towards opening up its economy, reopening non-essential retail and allowing pubs and restaurants to serve out after months of restrictions across England .

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