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Unpredictable arrival times from hauliers shifting wine and spirits have led to warnings of shortages of our favourite tipples in the run-up to Christmas.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) said it had written to the transport secretary Grant Shapps demanding he take urgent action over HGV driver shortages and freight disruption to avoid empty shelves.

The letter is signed by 48 of the WSTA’s members and the trade group said it had received multiple reports of products taking up to five times longer than they were doing a year ago.

It said businesses that had previously fulfilled orders in two or three days were now experiencing shipments taking 15 days to process.

The WSTA also said costs had risen by 7% by freight forwarders to account for driver retention.

The letter urged the government to extend the temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers for a year and also to facilitate the better routing of freight from ports.

Mike Beale, WSTA CE, said: “There is mounting concern amongst our membership that unless urgent action is taken, we will fall deeper into delivery chaos.

“We are already seeing major delays on wine and spirit delivery times which is pushing up costs and limiting the range of products available to UK consumers.

“Government needs to be doing all it can to ensure British business is not operating with one hand tied behind its back over the festive season and beyond.”

Speaking to MPs this week about food supplies in supermarkets this Christmas, Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, said there was a scaling back of ambition: “It’s not about shortages, it’s about supplying and making supply chains more efficient,” he said.

“It’s about reducing the amount of goods you're expected to put on the shelves.

“It’s a scaling back in order to meet the promise of providing the things you would expect to see on the shelves, but not the extras.”

Logistics UK policy director Elizabeth de Jong said supply chains were adjusting to longer lead times: “As a society, I think we are getting more used to seeing fewer things on shelves and being ok about it,” she said.