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Retailers and delivery companies recruit for Christmas as online shopping grows – and staff shortages are feared

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Retailers and delivery companies are starting their Christmas recruitment campaigns, against a background of staff shortages and rising levels of online shopping. 

Ecommerce has grown fast over the 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, requiring grocers and others to expand their online capacity. Now that growth is feeding into higher demand for jobs in multichannel fulfilment, such as click and collect staff and delivery drivers. Retailers are offering perks from free food and drink to bonus payments in order to ensure their hiring campaigns succeed at a time when post-Brexit shortages have been felt in areas from lorry driving to vegetable picking and butchery. 

Royal Mail said today that it is looking for about 20,000 seasonal staff to sort the Christmas post – at a time when more online parcels are being sent. Temporary roles – mostly in mail centres – will be available from late October and until early January. Some 17,150 people will be needed to work to work in mail centres in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Another 1,500 will be needed at Parcelforce and the same number at the international parcel hub at Heathrow, and there are 650 data inputting roles at three UK sites. 

Zareena Brown, Royal Mail chief people officer, says: “Our seasonal workforce is incredibly important to our operation and we very much look forward to welcoming those who return year after year as well as those who may be joining us for the first time. Being part of delivering Christmas is a brilliant experience and one that we know offers lots of opportunities for employment and engagement in the communities we serve.”

Tesco today says it plans to hire 30,000 temporary staff to help customers in its superstores and extra stores, where this year roles include picking for online deliveries as well as filling shelves. Half of those roles have already been filled by people who joined during the pandemic and have now extended their contracts to cover Christmas. 

Angela Woolfenden, Tesco head of UK resourcing, says: “We need another 15,000 colleagues to join the 15,000 additional colleagues who are already with us for the festive season, to help give our customers a Christmas to remember. We’re looking for people who enjoy working as part of a team and are prepared to go that extra mile in order to help our customers.   

“Our festive roles are a great way to become part of the Tesco team, from checkouts to picking orders for home delivery or replenishing the store. It’s an opportunity to meet great people, learn new skills and be part of a diverse team where everyone is welcome.”  

The retailer is also looking for 3,000 permanent members of staff to join its warehouse distribution teams, with a £500 bonus for those that join by October 30, and a £250 bonus for those that join after but before November 27. 

Aldi is looking for more than 1,500 people to work in its UK stores for what it expects to be its biggest ever Christmas. Roles include picking and packing click and collect order, as well as checkout staff. At the same time, it is recruiting for its 11 regional distribution centres in the UK for permanent jobs including warehouse selectors, logistics assistants and lorry drivers. 

Kelly Stokes, recruitment director at Aldi UK, said: “We always need extra support over the busy Christmas period but this year especially, temporary store colleagues will play a vital role in keeping our shelves stocked as the nation prepares to reunite with their loved ones after missing out on festive celebrations in 2020.

“At the same time, we also want to recognise and thank our amazing colleagues who have been going above and beyond to serve local communities over the past year. This is why we will once again be keeping our stores closed on Boxing Day, and it’s been really encouraging to see other retailers committing to do the same this year.”

And earlier this week Sainsbury’s launched what it says is its biggest ever Christmas recruitment drive. The company aims to hire 22,000 people for seasonal jobs, from serving customers and stocking shelves to picking, packing and delivering online orders. Jobs are already available, and temporary staff will be able to work until January 8, and extra hours are also available to existing staff. 

Clo Moriarty, Sainsbury’s retail and digital director, says: “We’re going all out to help our customers celebrate and make sure they have a great Christmas this year. By recruiting 22,000 temporary Sainsbury’s and Argos colleagues on an attractive pay package, incentivising Online drivers and offering additional hours to existing colleagues over the festive season, we will deliver what our customers want – great food and fantastic service. Christmas is a fun time to work in retail for anyone who enjoys helping customers and thrives on working in an inclusive team environment.  If that’s what motivates you, we’re ready to welcome you to Sainsbury’s.”

Jobs are also being advertised at John Lewis Partnership for a quick start. The retailer is looking for 7,000 temporary staff as well as more than 550 permanent full-time staff. Roles include supermarket assistants and drivers for online grocery deliveries at Waitrose, and sales and merchandising jobs in John Lewis department stores. The retailer, which launched its recruitment campaign last month, is offering free food and drinks to both staff and temporary workers in order to attract the help it needs.

Nikki Humphrey, people director at the John Lewis Partnership, says: “We know that as the first Christmas after lockdown, customers will want to make it really special and we’re throwing everything we can into helping them celebrate – our festive team will have a crucial role to play. We’re looking for people who can deliver extraordinary service to help customers get what they need to celebrate.  We look forward to welcoming people into our team across the country.”

The retailer will enable higher than usual levels of online demand in the run up to Black Friday through its new 300k sq ft distribution centre at Bardon, Leicestershire. 

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