Supermarkets have gone on a hiring spree as demand surges as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Tesco, Asda, Aldi, and Lidl said they would hire thousands of staff after hugely increased demand saw shoppers clearing shelves.
But Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia retail group has closed all of its stores and it’s unclear what will happen to jobs.
That move came before the government said it would pay the wages of workers at firms affected by the pandemic.
Supermarkets have been overwhelmed by a wave of panic-buying as shoppers rush to stock up amid the coronavirus pandemic.
To combat the stockpiling, in recent days the major British supermarkets imposed limits on how much of each item shoppers can buy.
Along with other measures to cope with the increased demand, some of the chains have embarked on big recruitment drives for a total of more than 30,000 jobs.
Tesco, the UK’s biggest supermarket, wants to take on 20,000 temporary workers “to help feed the nation”, it said.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented increase in demand for food and household products,” the chain said.
“At Tesco, we’re working around the clock to help ensure families have access to the shopping items they need.
“We launched our recruitment drive online on Wednesday and since them we have already been overwhelmed by support from the public and thank everyone who has applied to work with us in stores.”
It added that “over the coming days thousands of new colleagues will join us”.
Asda said it wanted to recruit more than 5,000 temporary staff from among people whose jobs have been impacted by the virus.
Aldi announced it was looking to fill 5,000 new temporary posts and take on 4,000 permanent new workers for jobs in all its stores and distribution centres.
And Lidl said it would create about 2,500 temporary jobs across its 800 stores in the UK.
The discounter said it was hiring to “help with an extremely busy time for stores”.
Lidl GB chief executive Christian Haertnagel said staff were doing an “incredible job at keeping our shelves stocked, and serving communities during an extremely challenging period”.
“Temporarily expanding our teams is one way we can help support our colleagues and customers, whilst providing work to those that have had their employment affected by the current situation.”
Earlier this week, Morrisons announced it was creating 3,500 new jobs to expand its home delivery service, about 2,500 pickers and drivers, plus 1,000 staff in its distribution centres.
It said it would make more slots available and also set up a call centre for those without access to online shopping.
Morrisons said the move would help “at a time of national need”.
On Friday, at his daily Downing Street briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would be chairing a meeting with supermarket bosses on Saturday to discuss the situation.
In an environment that was already tough for the High Street due to higher costs and changes in shopping habits, the coronavirus crisis has added a huge burden for retailers as many people avoid their stores.
Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia retail group, which includes Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, and Miss Selfrige, said on Friday that it would close all of its stores from 4pm that evening.
At the time, it said it would focus on its digital and social platforms. Staff were to remain employees and receive their full pay for March, but it was not clear what would happen with staffing beyond then.
However, this news came before a massive UK intervention in which Chancellor Rishi Sunak will pay the wages of employees unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The radical move is aimed at protecting people’s jobs.
Lay off threats
Similarly, prior to the government announcement, Holiday park operator Butlin’s said it would have to lay off 10,000 seasonal workers if it did not get enough state aid to pay their wages.
The boss of Bourne Leisure, which owns 50 Butlin’s, Haven and Warner parks, had approached the government for help.
The travel agent that took over Thomas Cook’s shops also cut 880 jobs out of a workforce of about 5,000.
Hays Travel said the move was to reduce its costs because of current trading conditions.
And bus operators had warned that “tens of thousands” of jobs could go within weeks .
The Confederation of Passenger Transport represents bus companies including Arriva, FirstGroup, Go-Ahead, National Express, and Stagecoach.
It said the jobs could go unless the government agreed an immediate £1bn rescue package for industry which has seen passenger numbers fall by 50% amid the coronavirus pandemic.
However, all these warnings and job cuts were made before the government announcement – and it is now unclear whether those moves will still hold.
As well as the wage payments, it is understood the government wage subsidy will apply to firms where bosses have already had to lay off workers due to the coronavirus, as long as they are brought back into the workforce and instead granted a leave of absence.
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