Delivery experts fear a massive shift to online shopping means many food and other retailers will be unable to cope.
The amount of money spent online this Christmas is expected to overtake the high street for the first time, creating a need for an armada of drivers to drop off orders.
However, industry experts have warned it will be impossible to recruit all the people needed.
Delivery experts fear a massive shift to online shopping means many food and other retailers will be unable to cope [File photo]
Royal Mail is taking on 33,000 seasonal workers, Amazon UK is recruiting 20,000 staff, while delivery services Hermes and Yodel have announced 13,000 and 3,000 seasonal workers respectively.
Despite this, head of consumer research at courier specialists ParcelHero, David Jinks, said: ‘Even though many retailers and delivery companies are attempting to hire thousands more staff in preparation for this year’s Christmas peak, this might be difficult to do in practice. A capacity crisis is set to cause delivery chaos.
‘The double-whammy of families, separated by Covid restrictions, mailing their gifts, plus a shortage of skilled drivers, could prove a mountain too high to climb.’
Waitrose has more than tripled the number of online order drop-off and collection slots ahead of the festive season to 190,000 each week, but these are already being sold out.
The amount of money spent online this Christmas is expected to overtake the high street for the first time, creating a need for an armada of drivers to drop off orders [File photo]
It has already had bookings for 115,000 deliveries for December 20 to 24, which compares with 44,000 slots for the whole Christmas run-up last year. As a result, all the slots between December 20 and Christmas Eve are already fully booked in some areas.
Other online grocers will not open their delivery slots until closer to Christmas, however it is clear there will be a battle over the prime dates.
Tesco is using its sought-after festive delivery slots as an incentive for shoppers to sign up to its Delivery Saver subscription, which costs £7.99 a month. Slots for Delivery Saver members open up on November 13, but it is a week later for non-members.
Marks & Spencer has teamed up with Ocado to offer a hugely increased home delivery capacity.
Sainsbury’s has increased its online order capacity from 340,000 a week in March to 700,000 this month. And Tesco has already taken on 16,000 more pickers and drivers.
Shoppers are being advised to make online purchases early to spread out demands on the courier system and so avoid the feared delivery log jam.
Amazon has tried to spread sales by launching Black Friday deals a month early while many others, including John Lewis and Debenhams are running 50 per cent off deals.
The chief executive at the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson, said: ‘We’re encouraging people to shop early and prevent the last minute rush so their fellow customers and all the store colleagues, warehouse workers and delivery drivers working behind the scenes, have the space they need to stay safe and well.’