Delivery driver shortage caused by coronavirus could ruin Christmas

Christmas presents might not get to your loved ones in time this year due to a shortage of delivery drivers, an expert has warned.

A recruiter, which helps supply temporary workers to companies, claims there is currently a shortage of delivery drivers, with estimates that demand is running at 30 per cent above supply. And the situation could get worse.

Lee Gamble, managing director of Berry Recruitment, said the combination of more online ordering and fewer European workers has created a perfect storm.

Online sales are nearly 50 per cent higher than in February, Mr Gamble said. But there is a shortage of blue-collar workers for jobs such as packing, food production, order picking in supermarkets, production line staff and industrial operatives.

Many European workers returned home when lockdown looked likely and local people who have lost their jobs or who are on furlough have not filled those vacancies, he explained.

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Lee Gamble, managing director at Berry Recruitment. Photo: Berry Recruitment

Mr Gamble said: “The situation is the same across the country. The lockdown has led to far more people ordering online. Many who had never used the internet for shopping are now converts, and more businesses are selling online.

“This has created a huge extra demand for all classes of driver, from HGV to local delivery drivers.

“What has exacerbated the situation is the lack of European workers. When lockdown looked likely, many of them returned home.

“Often they live in small homes here to minimise costs allowing them to send more money to their families. Obviously they didn’t want to be locked down in these properties.

“Neither have they returned because of the Covid-19 situation, which is clearly not over, and the uncertainty over Brexit.

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It may take longer for your Christmas presents to reach loved ones. Photo: Pexels

“We did expect to see retail and hospitality workers who have lost their jobs and those on furlough looking for extra work to help pick up the slack.

“But that hasn’t happened as yet. We don’t know why these people are not coming forward – possibly some have decided to wait for the new year before they start looking for work.

“The reality is that if people don’t do their internet shopping early, their Christmas presents might well not arrive in time.

“The positives are that there are a lot of jobs out there, albeit possibly not the ones people ideally want.

“The shortage is such that I am advising our clients to hang on to their temporary workers even if there is not enough work for them – because when they do need them there might not be any.

“There is a shortage across all blue-collar roles and anyone looking for work should be able to find it.”

Berry Recruitment has branches across England and Wales, including in Harlow, Hatfield and Hendon.

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