A massive cargo vessel that blocked the Suez Canal last month not only led to a grounded vital trade artery and international supply chains thrown into disarray but has also resulted in another knock-on effect - a shortage of garden gnomes.
The skyscraper-sized 200,000-ton MV Ever Given got diagonally stuck in the narrow but crucial waterway in a sandstorm on March 23, triggering a mammoth six-day-long effort to dislodge it.
According to a UK garden centers report, garden gnomes have become one of the commodities in short supply as a result of the blockage - as well as a steep rise in demand during lockdown, garden centers report.
Ian Byrne, of Highfield Garden World in Whitminster, Gloucestershire, told the BBC that there had been a huge rise in sales of gnomes, which has become a staple to many British homes since they were first introduced in the 1840s.
“We haven’t seen a gnome in six months now, unfortunately,” he said.
Byrne added: “Raw materials are becoming a bit of an issue and unfortunately gnomes are a victim of that shortage of supply. Gnomes of any type — plastic, stone or concrete — are in short supply. They’ve been very popular over the last couple of seasons, we’ve seen a massive upswing in the sales of gnomes and definitely a different clientele wanting gnomes too.”
Supply chains across many industries were affected when the Ever Given became lodged in the shipping lane.
Iain Wylie, chief executive of the Garden center Association, added: “While garden gnomes are not top of everyone’s list, gardening has been very popular during lockdown. Garden centers were affected by the ship getting stuck in the canal as much as any other industry, garden furniture, ornaments, of which gnomes would be some, being stuck in containers trying to come over here.”