Pandemic-weary families face chaos this Christmas with a threat of product shortages and delivery nightmares.
And even hopes of enjoying a traditional dinner may be stuffed as turkey supplies are at risk.
Experts warn a flood of online orders combined with shop closures, staff shortages and a logjam at the UK’s biggest port in Felixstowe constitute a perfect storm.
The new Covid-19 shutdown in England is expected to have triggered another surge in online shopping, piling pressure on delivery networks already feeling the strain.
Dino Rocos, who used to run John Lewis’s logistics operation, warned couriers could be forced to cap the number of orders they can handle.
He predicted shoppers wanting items by Christmas could have to order up to 10 days in advance – double the norm.
Mr Rocos, who now runs the Future Retail Logistics consultancy, said: “You simply can’t squeeze any more through the operations than they can cope with.”
To add to the chaos, delivery firms are facing a shortage of drivers – despite launching a recruitment blitz in recent months.
David Jinks, of delivery price comparison website Parcelhero, said: “We’ve seen the Mount Everest of peaks in demand for online orders this year.
“All you need is bad weather or something else to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
“If I wanted to place an order for Christmas I would do so very soon.”
It comes as the Mirror can reveal toy giant Lego is now having to ration supplies to shops.
Gary Grant, founder of The Entertainer, Britain’s biggest toy chain, confirmed Lego had slashed his November delivery to 40% of what was ordered.
He said: “I would be surprised if I get more than that in December. Lego is having a problem in terms of supply.
“If you are planning on getting a Lego set for Christmas, do not leave it until December.”
Lego’s issues are due to booming sales of its products, in strong demand since the start of the first lockdown. The firm said its factories are operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to try to keep up.
Other popular toys that could be in short supply include Barbie and board games such as Monopoly.
Mr Grant said it was the worst threat to supplies across so many different products in his more than 40-year career in the toy industry.
Online fashion giant ASOS has also signalled a possible shortage of sportswear after a spike in demand during the lockdown, while supplies of popular tech like Xbox consoles could be hit.
Import delays are a factor and Felixstowe has had a surge in container traffic as retailers prepare for Christmas and the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31.
To make matters worse, 11,000 containers of Government-ordered PPE are clogging up the Suffolk port.
John Roberts, boss of online electricals firm AO.com, warned it could result in product shortages, saying: “We’ll have a much better picture at the end of November.”
Families are also facing a battle to bag supermarket deliveries in the run-up to Christmas.
Ocado already has no slots left in the week before December 25 and Tesco was swamped with demand when it released priority slots last week.
And the British Poultry Council warns supplies could run out due to a lack of skilled hands to process the meat.
Against all of these threats there are ongoing issues with online deliveries since the start of the pandemic and the first lockdown, when internet shopping surged.
Amazon, already the world’s richest firm, has been among the biggest winners, fuelling the fortune of billionaire founder Jeff Bezos.
Thousands of couriers have been hired, while sales of delivery vans have jumped.
Yet research out today from Citizens Advice says half of people faced issues with parcel deliveries ahead of the Black Friday discount event later this month as more turn to online shopping.
The charity has had three times as many calls about delivery issues since March than in the same period last year.
The catalogue of chaos could not come at a worse time for retailers, many of whom face a make-or-break Christmas because of coronavirus.
Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at broker Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Retailers could be overwhelmed by a surge in orders while trying to socially distance in warehouses and deal with demand for deliveries.
“Shoppers may be unable to get presents delivered in time for Christmas.
“Take delivery times with a pinch of salt. There’s going to be a surge in demand, so you need a much larger margin for error.”