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Warnings of shortage of delivery drivers as temporary workers return to retail and hospitality jobs

Delivering on delivery: priority for shoppers (Image:Shutterstock)

Delivery drivers who joined the industry during the fast expansion of online capacity at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year are now returning to their previous jobs, a new study suggests.

Analysis from Indeed Flex, an online marketplace for flexible jobs, found that the number of temporary delivery drivers now available for shifts has fallen by more than a quarter as thousands have returned to their former professions in hospitality and retail. 

The number of temporary drivers available for work in June was 28.8% down on its March level, the website found, as many opted to take on hospitality and retail shifts instead. At the same time, the number of delivery shifts that needed to be filled was 15.6% higher than a year earlier according to Indeed Flex.

The analysis follows recent warnings of lorry driver shortages by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) . It has said there are 100,000 fewer HGV drivers than needed, as European drivers left after Brexit and as a result of the Covid. At the same time, many are being asked to self-isolate by the NHS Covid App and by Test and Trace. 

News of an emerging shortage of delivery drivers, who handle the last mile of journeys, is set to add to the pressure. 

Jack Beaman, chief executive and co-founder of Indeed Flex, says: “The logistics sector stepped up admirably last year, keeping millions of locked-down Britons supplied with food and essentials. The surging demand for delivery drivers also proved a lifeline for many people whose jobs in hospitality, tourism or high street retail came to an abrupt end.

“Now as lockdown restrictions ease and many of the temporary drivers who kept Britain moving in its time of need are boomeranging back to their old jobs. The trend is happening at the worst possible time for logistics businesses who are simultaneously grappling with the post-Brexit shortage of drivers and a ‘pingdemic’ which is forcing many staff to stay off work to isolate at home.

“The news is better for those looking for temporary work as a driver. They’re in the driving seat like never before; as flexible workers with an in-demand skill, they can pick and choose the shifts that suit them best.” 

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