The delivery drivers keeping Christmas on the road
Peak Christmas shopping season is here. Delivery drivers are working flat out to keep up with demand. Christmas delivery drivers can sometimes be the unsung heroes of the festive period – so we wanted to change that.
We look at some of the sheer numbers involved when it comes to being on the frontline of getting people and businesses their deliveries on time, amid driver shortages, supply chain problems, and of course, the continued uncertainty of Covid.
While social media and newspapers often focus on customer complaints and the times when deliveries go wrong, there are many examples of delivery drivers who go above and beyond. Some also manage to spread a little Christmas cheer along the way.
First, some delivery facts and figures:
- In the US, Amazon expects to become the largest delivery service in the country by early next year.
- The UK is thought to have had its biggest Black Friday ever this year, with shoppers spending an estimated £9.2bn over Black Friday weekend.
- Some 59% of Christmas shopping in the UK is expected to be done online for home delivery. London is the most likely area to buy online.
- It’s predicted that we’ll spend a total of £21bn on Christmas presents and celebrations in 2021.
Several companies are hiring thousands of extra staff, including drivers, to meet Christmas demand:
- Royal Mail is hiring 20,000 extra people, with 3,650 workers for its parcels business Parcelforce Worldwide
- Sainsbury’s and Argos are taking on 22,000 new workers
- John Lewis and Waitrose are hiring 7,000 staff
- Morrisons is recruiting 3,000 new staff.
The people delivering Christmas
Those are big numbers, but all that activity is powered by individual drivers like you. Courier Sally Smith told the BBC about her experience of being a delivery driver over Christmas. She worked in North Scotland, often driving 100 miles in one day.
She said: “The bad stories just make us look bad and it’s a shame. The majority of drivers I know are really nice – and they’ll go out of their way to help in any way they can.”
Sally had a military base on her route, so supports the families that are stationed there. She gave sweets to the guards and personnel and got Christmas cards, biscuits, and chocolates from her happy customers in return.
Another driver, who works for DPD and delivers in the Bexleyheath area in London, was dubbed the UK’s “cheeriest delivery deliver” after a customer’s doorbell security camera caught him singing a Christmas song and dancing up the driveway.
The clip was posted to a local Facebook group, where other customers said they’d also spotted his festive cheer – singing away and wishing ‘Merry Christmas’ to the people he passed.
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Delivery drivers were under pressure even before Covid lockdowns. One driver made the news after she asked people to stop and think before having a go at delivery drivers on social media, particularly in the run-up to Christmas.
Danni Thomas works part-time for Hermes, making deliveries in south Wales. She noticed a couple of years ago that the Christmas delivery rush was starting earlier in the year, with the number of parcels she had to deliver each day going from 60 or 70 to in some cases over 100.
She generally enjoys the job, chatting to customers, and meeting their pets. But she was frustrated by the criticism she saw on places like Facebook.
Danni told Wales Online: “People don’t realise what we go through, it’s taxing on my car, on my body. [By all means] go on Facebook to find out who your local Hermes driver is for your area. But don’t slate us.
“A lot of people say thank you and are really appreciative. The amount that will ask if I’m freezing and say come in for a cup of tea.
“They do respect you, but you have the random ones [who don’t].”
Writing on Facebook, she said: “So over six days I have delivered 450 parcels and that’s not including collections. Taken up most of my day, time away from family too.
“I am very grateful I have a job but please understand that over 90 parcels a day in this freezing, horrible weather is a task and a half. My lips are chapped, my back is killing and I am knackered, so please think before you go slating us Hermes delivery people.”
With lockdown, delivery drivers had to take on yet more work. A couple of companies launched adverts to say thank you and to recognise their drivers’ hard work.
Deliveroo said drivers were “another set of key workers”, delivering everything from groceries and home gyms and offices to life-saving blood donations.
Meanwhile, Asda highlighted some of their drivers who have helped customers during the pandemic.
One such driver is Geoff Norris, who was on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for supporting his local community in lockdown.
Geoff, who is based at the Wisbech Asda store in Cambridgeshire, arranged a special 90th birthday surprise for Eileen Hamilton after hearing she would otherwise have spent the big day on her own.
Another driver who has been spreading Christmas joy is Colin Bone, a delivery driver for Asda based in Broadstairs in Kent. He’s made deliveries dressed as Batman, Spiderman and even a Christmas turkey.
A huge thank you from us at INSHUR for all the work you do, at Christmas and throughout the year. Christmas delivery drivers, we appreciate you!