Tesco warns lorry driver shortage could lead to return of panic buying

Tesco warns lorry driver shortage will lead to panic buying in run up to Christmas as bosses call on ministers to take urgent action to solve crisis

  • Tesco says to expect a return of panic buying and empty shelves by Christmas
  • The UK’s largest supermarket chain revealed it is suffering shortfall of 800 expert HGV drivers, despite offering its new recruits a £1,000 bonus since July
  • Government asked to ease barriers for foreign workers to alleviate supply crisis
  • Tesco is warning customers to expect the return of panic buying in the run up to Kersfees as bosses call on ministers to help end the lorry driver shortage.

    The supermarket giant revealed it was currently suffering a shortfall of approximately 800 HGV drivers as it urged the Government to ease restrictions on foreign workers to help alleviate the supply chain crisis.

    Despite being the UK’s largest supermarket chain, and offering new employees a £1,000 bonus since July, Andrew Woolfenden, Tesco’s distribution and fulfilment director, warned they were still unable to make up the lost numbers.

    Nasionaal, food supply chains have been placed under intense stress because of a shortage of around 100,000 HGV driverswith empty shelves across most UK supermarkets as a result.

    Slamming the problem as ‘industry-wide’, Mr Woolfenden compared companies desperately trying to recruit from a limited pool of expert drivers to ‘moving deckchairs around’.

    Hy het gewaarsku is gesien hoe hy van die hospitaal af gestap het: ‘Our concern is that the pictures of empty shelves will get ten times worse by Christmas and then we’ll get panic-buying.

    Nasionaal, food supply chains have been placed under intense stress because of a shortage of around 100,000 HGV driverswith empty shelves across most UK supermarkets as a result

    Tesco is suffering a shortfall of approximately 800 HGV drivers, and it urged the Government to ease restrictions on foreign workers to help alleviate the supply chain crisis [Lêer prentjie]

    Despite gaps appearing on supermarket shelves across the country this summer, consumers are yet to see a return of full-scale panic buying that was endured at the start of the pandemic.

    But concerns are continuing to grow should demand suddenly surge againwith replenishing empty shelves already an issue for most major UK retailers.

    Trade association Logistics UK has called on ministers to provide up to 10,000 temporary work visas for trained EU drivers to paper over the cracks.

    The Government has so far rejected these calls, instead insisting firms recruit from a pool of British workers.

    It comes as shorter, fast-track HGV tests have been mooted as a potential solution to help plug the spiralling vacancies in the haulier industry.

    Industry experts say better pay and improved working conditions are needed to help improve staffing levelsand put the shortage largely down to Brexit and the pandemic, wat gelei het tot 14,000 European drivers going home and just 600 of those returning.

    The Road Haulage Association said the total number of people in the UK with HGV licences this summer is 516,000. But the latest Department for Transport data shows 278,700 HGV drivers were employed in 2020, en dit ontslaan 54 persent van die totaal.

    The crisis, which has also been made worse by Covid-related delays to testing new drivers, has seen supermarket shelves across the country go empty as companies struggle to restock their products.

    But Tesco’s chief Andrew Woolfenden issued the stark warning that consumers could see even more barren shelves by Decemberalongside a return of panic buying.

    The UK's supply chain crisis has seen supermarket shelves across the country go empty as companies struggle to restock their products. Bo: A Tesco store in Manchester

    The UK’s supply chain crisis has seen supermarket shelves across the country go empty as companies struggle to restock their products. Bo: A Tesco store in Manchester








    A spokesperson for the supermarket said: ‘We have good availability, with deliveries arriving at our stores and distribution centres across the UK every day.

    ‘While the industry-wide shortage of HGV drivers has led to some distribution challenges, we’re working hard to address these and to plan for the months ahead, so that customers can get everything they need.

    Exacerbating the issue is a roaring debate over limited nationwide supplies of CO2, commonly used in the food and drink industry, and how the Government plans to ensure families don’t have to choose between ‘heatingand ‘eating’ hierdie Kersfees.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson triumphantly declared yesterday that ‘Christmas is on’, after the Government struck a short-term, taxpayer-funded deal with CO2 producers to avert food shortages.