Brexit, followed by the pandemic, supply chain issues, driver shortages, price hikes and now the petrol crisis creating panic buying. What’s next – and could Christmas really be cancelled this year? 

Iceland boss Richard Walker has warned that shoppers faced a significant increase in costs due to the national lorry driver shortage. Meanwhile Richard Parkinson, port director at Solent Gateway, the UK’s fastest growing port explained that lorries are so crucial to the supply chain because they cover the ‘last mile’ to the final customer.

“Unless you can get the commodity onto a truck for that ‘last mile’ to the end user, the whole thing falls down”

“You can have the most efficient supply chains that use multi-model solutions and the latest data, but unless you can get the commodity onto a truck for that ‘last mile’ to the end user, the whole thing falls down,” he told Retail Gazette.

“There are very few solutions: rail gets you close but not to the end of the supply chain; ‘customer collect’ from the nearest node in the supply chain only works if the customer has the lorries to collect the goods.”

In a bid to make sure shelves stay fully stocked throughout the run up to Christmas countless retailers have been offering incentives and payouts in a bid to attract new drivers.

The question now is why now is there a lack of qualified HGV drivers within the UK, and have they just moved to a different sector?

Rob Shaw, marketing director EMEA at the software company Fluent Commerce said in his opinion, there are possibly three main reasons for the wide felt shortages of drivers.

He cited the Covid-19 pandemic as a clear factor as haulage firms are having to operate within tighter margins to try to repair the economic impact caused by working restrictions and the increased cost base. He added that the impact of Brexit and international workers deciding to leave UK shores has also left a significant gap.

“Lastly, even if pay incentives are offered, potential new drivers still have to invest significant monies up front to pass the necessary heavy goods vehicle licenses,” he explained.

Read the full Retail Gazette article

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