Amazon has become the latest major retailer to warn that Christmas will be “a real challenge” unless drastic action is taken to rectify the driver shortage.
Amazon’s public policy manager for the UK and Ireland told the Cabinet Office that despite it offering new staff thousands in welcome bonuses, its recruitment efforts were “back to square one”.
It joined Tesco, Iceland and numerous other leading voices in the retail and logistics sector warning that the UK could experience massive disruption over the Christmas period unless action is taken address the shortfall of HGV drivers in the UK.
The crisis is now being exacerbated by fuel supply issues, with BP yesterday stating that up to 100 of its forecourts were short on fuel, with Esso and Tesco also said they were experiencing outages.
According to new UK trade figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 23 per cent of retailers are already reporting low stock levels, while 20 per cent of transport companies have been forced to stop operating altogether.
While driver wages are now at an all-time high in an effort to attract new drivers, ParcelHero’s head of consumer research David Jinks says this is likely to lead to increased prices for consumers.
“Rising driver’s wages and incentives are costing them more and 26 per cent saying their turnover had decreased from normal levels,” he warned.
“Combined with the Government’s dogmatic refusal to allow EU-based drivers to return under temporary skilled-worker permits, the UK’s entire supply chain is consequently on the verge of a major crisis.”
Hargreaves Lansdown’s senior investment and markets analyst Susannah Streeter added: “This all seems far from idle speculation given the grim reading in today’s ONS Business insights survey which showed that the transportation and storage industry had the lowest percentage of businesses currently trading in early September 2021, at 80 per cent.
“The shortage of drivers has meant that haulage firms have simply had to cease trading because they can’t fulfil jobs, even though everyone keeps knocking at the door.’’