Lack of lorry drivers will affect online deliveries

Online retailers could face a logistical nightmare as a shortage of lorry drives nears crisis levels.

Wincanton has warned more lorry drivers need to be trained in order to cope with the fulfilment demand from online retailing.

The UK's largest logistics company has around 5,500 drivers of large goods vehicle (LGVs) and is calling for action from both the industry and government.

Statistics from the Freight Transport Association stated only 20,000 people are becoming LGV drivers per year and the country needs another 60,000 drivers in addition to the 326,000 already qualified in the UK.

Futhermore, over 50% of existing drivers are aged over 50 and near retirement, according to Road Haulage Association figures. And fewer than 5% of drivers are under 25.

Speaking to The Telegraph, HR director at Wincanton, Julie Welch, said the smaller retailers will suffer the most as large companies will have more resources to cope.

“It will be smaller deliveries, such as those that end up in consumers’ homes, that will become much more delayed. Companies like Amazon could be affected. The big food retailers that do home deliveries could raise minimum spending levels to make them more cost-effective as they seek efficiencies,” she added.

Concerns about the cost of fulfilling online orders are not new for multichannel retailers. Retailers even began offering click & collect services to counter delivery charges and provide increased customer convenience. But in recent months retailers have realised click & collect is still costly because many do not have full visibility of their supply chains and are unable to fulfil orders from stores.

Over the summer, John Lewis acknowledged the service was not sustainable and began charging £2 for orders less than £30 which were ordered online to pick up in store.