Royal mail is to increase seasonal hiring in the run up to Christmas this year. The company has announced it is to recruit for 33,000 new temporary positions for the Christmas period. This is 22,000 jobs more than normal for this time of the year. Royal Mail say this is because of the surge in online shopping caused by the shutdown. Roughly 13,000 of these jobs will be in the UK, with the rest split between Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These jobs will mainly be in mail sorting offices, as well as driving and data inputting positions.
Online demand rising
The sharp increase in seasonal hiring is a direct result of the recent boom in online shopping. This increase has occurred as ongoing restrictions continue to force people to shop online. With restrictions likely to continue for the foreseeable future, the switch to online shopping is expected to remain. Royal Mail announced the increase in seasonal hiring after unveiling it will now collect parcels from doorsteps. This is the first time in its’ history that it has offered a collection service. Royal Mail recently announced a £139m increase in the five months leading to August this year. This is in part due to an increase of 177m parcel deliveries over previous years.
Retail sales continue to rise
The Office for National Statistics revealed UK retail sales increased in September for the fifth consecutive month. Retail sales rose 1.5% between August and September, thanks in part to the rise in DIY and household goods spending. These rises come after the biggest slump in spending on record. Figures show that retail sales last month were 5.5% higher before the pandemic. In particular, sales have risen 17.4% in the last quarter, the biggest quarterly rise on record.
This rise has been driven by increases in household & garden goods as people are prevented from holidaying overseas. However, other areas of retail continue to see sales fall. This includes fuel sales, which have dropped 8.6% since February. This is due to the increase in people working from home. Clothing sales have also fallen as people have less opportunities to socialise. Experts predict the ongoing restrictions could see retail sales continue to increase in the run up to Christmas.
Is consumer spending bubble ready to burst?
However, the rise in retail is not expected to last. With furlough set to end this month, experts are predicting a fall in consumer spending. Research provider GfK revealed UK consumer confidence fell sharply in October. Furthermore, King Business School in London has warned 6m small businesses are at risk. Research by the school revealed two-thirds of 350 entrepreneurs questioned feared their businesses would not survive.
Furthermore, half of these businesses believed they would run out of money in the next 12-months. These 6m small businesses provide an estimated 16.6m jobs across the UK. Small businesses are responsible for half of the private sector turnover and roughly 60% of all private sector workers. The survey also revealed that businesses led by females were being affected more than those by men. Approximately 72% of females questioned reported lower trading volume, in comparison to 56% of male business leaders.
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