Third of Brits have started Christmas already!
While the festive season may still feel a long way away, UK independent parcel carrier, Yodel, has tod...
While the festive season may still feel a long way away, UK independent parcel carrier, Yodel, has today revealed that nearly a third (29 per cent) of UK consumers have already started to buy their Christmas presents.
The survey of 3,165 people, which was carried out between 7 and 9 September, shows that festive treats have been bagged by an estimated 18.6 million Brits already. This is despite the data being collected over 110 days before Christmas when the temperature was on average 20oC across the country and we were technically still in astronomical summertime.
Those in the North East (42 per cent) are likely to be the most prepared, followed by the Welsh (41 per cent) with Londoners falling behind the pack with just 18 per cent already having bought presents to put under the tree.
Just a fifth (21 per cent) of men have gifts awaiting someone special, compared to 33 per cent of women, and 13 per cent of men admit to leaving all shopping to the last minute compared to just 5 per cent of women.
Overall, 18 per cent of people say they will start in October, 25 per cent in November and 23 per cent won’t get around to it until December, making September the most popular time to start searching.
A huge three quarters (76 per cent) of people say they’ll buy at least half of their presents online this year. Just 3 per cent say they’ll get everything in-store.
The figures follow other research from Yodel which showed that on Black Friday 2014, only 8 per cent of shoppers placed orders online whereas 30 per cent of shoppers plan to take part in online promotions on 27th November this year.
Dick Stead, executive chairman of Yodel, said: “The advent of online shopping, speed of delivery and pre-Christmas promotions has changed the way we shop and we wanted to understand consumers’ shopping trends. The results are important because they give a clear idea of what to expect over the coming months as we plan for big spikes in the number of parcels that we deliver to shoppers, as well as return to retailers.
“It’s good to see that so many people have already started their shopping, and we are well prepared to handle the huge numbers of orders that are still to be bought.”
The findings come as Yodel continues its preparations for the 2015 peak period. The carrier has spent the first half of this year optimising its network to cope with such uplifts in demand, including several new, strategically placed, ‘super’ service centres, with more planned to open by the end of the year. It has also made significant investment in IT, mechanical handling, sorting equipment, training and fleet to improve efficiency and capacity.
The research is part of Yodel’s ongoing customer feedback survey, ‘Have Your Say’, conducted for Yodel by eDigitalResearch. To date the survey has been taken 1.7 million customers, providing Yodel with instant feedback on each delivery, and allowing the identification of areas for improvement and best practice.
UK independent parcel carrier, Yodel, handles over 155 million parcels every year and has a relationship with 85 per cent of the UK's top retailers. The company is headquartered in Hatfield and has over 60 locations across the UK, including three central sorts and over 50 service centres.
Yodel offers a range of services to meet the needs of its clients and their customers.
Through its sister company, Arrow XL, Yodel can also offer a two man service for white goods and large items up to 120kg.
To find out more visit www.yodel.co.uk
Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried
While driver shortages are a global problem, with a recent survey from the International Road Transport Union suggesting that driver shortages are expected to increase by 25% year-on-year across its 23 member countries, the issue has very much made itself felt for UK businesses in recent weeks.
A perfect storm of factors, which many within the industry have been wary of, and warning about, for months, have led to a situation wherein businesses are suddenly facing significant difficulties around transporting goods to shelves on time, as well as inflated operating costs for doing so.
What’s more, the public may also see price rises as a result due to demand outmatching supply for certain product lines, which in turn brings with it the risk of customer dissatisfaction and a hit to brand and stakeholder reputation. Given that this price inflation has been speculated to hit in October, when the extended grace period on Brexit customs checks comes to an end, the worst may be yet to come.
"Steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole"
That said, we have already been hearing reports of service interruption due to lack of driver availability, meaning that volumes aren’t being transported, or delivered, to required schedules and lead times. A real-world example of this occurred on the weekend of 4-6 June with convenience retailer Nisa, with deliveries to Nisa outlets across the UK affected by driver shortages to its logistics provider DHL.
But where has this skills shortage stemmed from?
Supply is the primary issue. Specifically, the number of available EU drivers has decreased by up to 15,000 drivers due to Brexit alone, and this has been further exacerbated by drivers returning to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to foreign exchange rates making UK a less desirable place to live and work. This, alongside the recent need to manage IR35 tax changes, has also led to significant inflation in driver and transport costs.
COVID-19 complications have also meant that there have been no HGV driver tests over the past year, meaning the expected 6,000-7,000 new drivers over the past year have not appeared. With the return of the hospitality sector we understand that this is a significant challenge with, for instance, order delivery lead times being extended.
It is little surprise, therefore, that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) earlier this month became the latest in a long line of industry spokespeople to write to the government about the driver shortage for trucks. The letter echoed the view held by much of the industry, that the cause of this issue is both multi-faceted and, at least in some aspects, long-standing.
So, many in the industry are in agreement as to the driving factors behind this crisis. But what can be done?
Simply enough, outside of businesses completely reorganising their supply chain network, external support is needed. In the short-term, the government should consider providing the industry with financial aid, and this can also be supported more widely with legislative change.
Specifically, immigration policy could be updated to place drivers on the shortage occupations list, which would go some way towards easing the burden created by foreign drivers returning to their home countries. Looking elsewhere, government should also look for ways to increase the availability of HGV driver tests after the blockage created by the coronavirus lockdowns.
Looking more long-term, steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole. As it stands, multiple sources suggest that the average age of truck drivers in the UK is 48, with only one in every hundred drivers under the age of 25. We must therefore do more to increase the talent pipeline coming into the industry if we are to offset more significant skills shortages further down the line.
On the back of a turbulent year for the supply chain industry, it has become increasingly clear that the long-foretold shortage of drivers is now having a tangible and, in places, crippling effect on supply chains.
Drivers, and the wider supply chain industry, have rightly been recognised for the seismic role they played in keeping the nation moving and fed over the past year under unprecedented strain. If this level of service is to continue, we must now see Government answer calls to provide the support the sector needs, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to find a solution. If we do not see concrete action to this effect soon, we are likely to be in for a turbulent few months.
Rob Wright is executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector