UK retail delivery drivers found themselves at the centre of consumers’ concerns last month as the snow caused havoc on the nation’s roads.
Question marks were raised about whether Christmas presents ordered online would arrive in time and major retailers, such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Boots, suspended deliveries in Scotland at one point, unable to guarantee that goods would reach customers’ homes.
But although some of these decisions caused controversy at the time, there were plenty of supply chain success stories uncovered once the snow had cleared.
At the start of December, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport called on members of the public to show understanding about the difficult job drivers faced, and there have been many examples of good practice made apparent in recent weeks.
Leo McKee, CEO of rent-to-own retailer Brighthouse, told Retail Gazette that it made around 100,000 deliveries in November and December, with every one reaching its intended target.
In some cases, taxis were organised to get the goods to customers and one particular incident in Cardiff even saw delivery drivers help a pensioner replace his door after he had unnecessarily removed its hinges to make way for a sofa.
Commenting on the problems encountering delivery drivers in the lead-up to Christmas, McKee said: “In Scotland and the north the situation was desperate, but everyone who ordered products received them.”
Meanwhile Sainsbury’s reported on a number of its drivers who went above and beyond the call of duty when the snow was at its heaviest.
A spokesperson for the supermarket said that one delivery man for its online operation in High Wycombe stayed on for a further six hours after his shift had finished to support fellow drivers who were struggling on the icy roads.
The supermarket representative added: “In Ripley, driver Simon Wheatley had to walk a customer’s shopping half a mile in the snow to get to her and the customer had nothing but praise for him.”
Britain’s fifth largest grocer The Co-operative also listed examples of heroic delivery staff activity.
Three home delivery drivers from its store in Whitby, Yorkshire, for example, braved the bad weather to transport essential supplies to 17 households in the remote North York Moors village of Goathland.
According to the grocer, the trio represented the only supermarket home delivery team to continue this type of service in the area during the big freeze.
Around the same time, CILT CEO Steve Agg highlighted the important role many of the UK’s logistics employees played at such a critical time of year.
“We have seen drivers going to extraordinary personal lengths, and displaying incredible skills, in order to keep Britain stocked with its daily needs,” he explained.
“Lorry drivers deserve our admiration, congratulations and thanks for the way in which they have stuck to their task, displayed innovation, and in most cases delivered the goods.”