The lorry driver shortage crisis first grabbed headlines in early June when major distributor Nationwide Produce warned that fresh produce destined for UK supermarkets was being dumped due to a shortage of drivers.
The logistics industry, which retailers – especially grocers – rely on to transport goods to stores or warehouses, is facing an estimated shortfall of around 100,000 HGV drivers.
Hauliers have blamed the shortage on a large proportion of drivers being foreign nationals from European countries who had returned to the EU after Brexit.
This was combined with truck drivers not being included on the UK Government’s list of skilled labour, leaving new arrivals needing immigration paperwork.
In addition, Covid-19 had seen no new British truck drivers trained within the past 12 months, while changes in the rules of self-employment had led to a 25 per cent increase in agency driver charges.
BRC food and sustainability director Andrew Opie previously said that retailers were aware of a fall in HGV driver numbers and were working with their suppliers to ensure that consumers still have the same selection of fresh produce.
Last month, the government revealed plans to tackle the shortage by easing driver qualification requirements and improved working conditions. Other measures include giving drivers more official parking spaces and boosting standards of lorry parks to help encourage hauliers to stay in the sector.
Grocers have since urged customers not to panic buy in response to reports of emptying shelves, saying they were continuing to receive regular deliveries.
Nonetheless, almost 3000 hauliers are now planning a strike on August 23 over low pay and working conditions, which has led to retailers offering incentives.
Here are the retailers that, at the time of print, have attempted to address the lorry driver shortage amid the nation crisis:
Tesco is offering a £1000 joining bonus to lorry drivers who join the Big 4 grocer until September 30.
Potential candidates are told that the role offers the opportunity to be “an ambassador on our roads” where “you’ll play a vital role for our customers and communities, representing Tesco on the highways and byways of the UK”.
Tesco’s Booker wholesale division has also provided a temporary £5-an-hour pay rise for its Hemel Hempstead depot drivers, according to the Unite union.
Aldi has increased the salary of lorry drivers as part of efforts to keep shelves stocked.
Marks & Spencer will offer new lorry drivers a sign-on bonus. The retailer said that from this month, new drivers joining M&S’s logistics partner Gist can earn up to £5000 in incentives through a combination of a £2000 sign-on bonus and up to three additional retention payments.
Drivers can also benefit from discounts and a “generous” pension, as well as training and career development schemes.
The John Lewis Partnership will raise its lorry driver salaries by up to £5000.
The firm – which runs the John Lewis department store arm and Waitrose supermarket chain – said it would start the increase in annual salaries on Sunday.
Large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers employed by John Lewis and Waitrose will receive a pay rise of around £2 an hour in their base pay across all its regional and national distribution sites.
The partnership employs around 900 drivers who will benefit from the pay increase.
New drivers with C+E licences joining before November will also be offered a “welcome payment” of £1000, in addition to the pay rise.
Poundland is offering an incentives package, which includes a bonus scheme, to boost recruitment and provide career development for for existing and new Poundland drivers.
The retailer is offering to pay the costs of getting a HGV Class 1 licence – which can be as much as £2000, including the four-day training course.
This would enable existing HGV Class 2 licence holders, who drive rigid body units, to move to the next level so they can drive articulated lorries.
Poundland said it would offer the support to HGV Class 2 drivers with six months experience, who will go on to a 12 month training contract when they get their Class 1 licence.
The offer to help fund the costs of getting a Class 1 licence is also open to existing Poundland staff and the discount retailer said six have already joined the scheme.
Meanwhile, those working out of one of Poundland’s three distribution centres in Springvale, West Midlands, Wigan in Greater Manchester or Harlow, Essex from July to September will qualify for a £1000 bonus in October.
The retailer said that would be another £1000 bonus in January for those who work for Poundland between October and December.
Poundland is also currently recruiting more than 100 drivers across the three distribution centres.
Although Co-op has not revealed plans to increase the salary of its lorry drivers, the retailer is recruiting up to 3000 temporary colleagues to keep depots working and stores re-stocked.