13 Mar 2012

Ports dispute could mean higher prices for consumers

5:29 pm on 13 March 2012

Retailers and importers are warning consumers to expect higher prices and gaps on shop shelves, as the Ports of Auckland industrial dispute drags on.

The port has been running at 25% capacity for the past three weeks ago, and that is starting to hit businesses in the pocket.

The Importers Institute says the cost of moving containers around the country nearly doubles the freight price and that cost will be passed on to consumers.

Retailers Association chief executive John Albertson agrees customers could soon be paying more to make up for the cost of re-routing stock from other ports.

With retail businesses operating on profit margins of between three and six per cent, he says, "There's not a lot of margin there to absorb those costs, so invariably they'll be passed on to the consumer."

Mr Albertson says shops will not be able to stay fully stocked much longer, as back-up supplies dwindle.

Ports of Auckland estimates the industrial action has cost it about $7.7 million.