University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Supermarkets to recruit thousands as demands surge

Becca Bashford

ByBecca Bashford

Mar 23, 2020

Charlotte Brill | Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in supermarket shelves being emptied at unprecedented rates. Frenzied scenes, including people fighting over basic items and stealing from delivery lorries, have been witnessed at stores across the nation, and the world. 

In a joint letter curated by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), UK retailers have urged customers not to panic and to shop considerately, to protect those who are elderly, vulnerable or staying at home from being left without food and household supplies. Speaking on behalf of Britain’s retailers, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC, said:

‘’In the face of unprecedented demand as a result of coronavirus, food retailers have come together to ask their customers to support each other to make sure everyone can get access to the products they need.’’

Major supermarkets have limited the number of each item people can buy and many have introduced schemes dedicating an hour for elderly and vulnerable customers to shop. Tesco and Asda have also announced a special hour, in their larger stores, to prioritise NHS staff as a thank you for their critical work. 

Despite these efforts, demand for basic products remains extraordinarily high and our retailers are overwhelmed. 

Tesco, Asda and Aldi, among other leading supermarkets, have set up recruitment drives to help them cope with the demands of panic-shopping and intense stockpiling during this global time of crisis. They will hire thousands of temporary employees, both in-store and in their distribution centres. 

This call for support came before Rishi Sunak announced that ‘’The government is going to step in and help pay people’s wages’’, as part of the government’s new coronavirus job retention scheme. 

Aldi has said that they have 4,000 permanent vacancies and have created 5,000 new temporary roles, with immediate starts and the potential to become permanent employees in the future. New recruits at Aldi will earn a minimum of £9.30 nationally or £10.90 if they are working in London. Kelly Stokes, Recruitment Director at Aldi, says: 

‘’We want to keep supporting our local communities through these uncertain times, with access to groceries and wages to keep their families going, and we feel we’re in a position to be able to do so through the creation of these new roles.’’ 

Tesco, The UK’s biggest supermarket, are to hire 20,000 temporary colleagues ‘’to help feed the nation’’, according to its press release on Friday. After launching their recruitment drive on Wednesday, they said:

‘’We have seen 140,000 views on our Tesco Careers page and over the coming days thousands of new colleagues will join us.’’

The popular chain also added that they would be able to process the applications of eligible applicants and get them an interview in a single day. Tesco’s Chief People Officer, Natasha Adams, said:

“I’m so proud to be welcoming thousands of new colleagues to Tesco. Thank you to everyone offering to help as we work day and night to keep our shelves full for customers. The community spirit at Tesco is fantastic and together, we can do this.”

CEO and President of Asda, Roger Burnley also commented on the pivotal role supermarkets can play during this crisis. On behalf of the retailer he pledges:

“Where we can provide opportunities for employment, even short term, to help people through this period, we want to play our part. And where we are able to reduce the strain on our smaller suppliers and tenants- we will do so.”

Retailers across the nation are working tirelessly to ensure that everyone has access to essential shopping items. These are uncertain times, but we are all in this together. We need to stand in solidarity, support those who need it most and look out for each other as a community. Be considerate. 

Image Credit: Charlotte Brill

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