Driver Shortage May Force Supermarket Price Increases

A shortage of HGV driver in the UK is set to add pressure to the prices of a weekly shop, and potentially a shortage of goods on the shelves by autumn, warns the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

BBC News reports that the chief executive of the RHA, Richard Burnett, has warned that the government’s COVID recovery plans will be impacted if it doesn’t take action to resolve the 30,000 HGV driving tests lost last year because of COVID.

The RHA also believes that a 15,000 drop in UK HGV drivers caused by drivers from Eastern Europe returning home after Brexit will cause a ‘perfect storm’ for supermarkets that will result in high prices and a lack of choice for shoppers.

Rod McKenzie, managing director of policy at the RHA, said that the combination of a lack of truck drivers and the end of the customs grace period in October will likely increase pressure on supermarkets to raise prices as demand outweighs the supply of popular everyday products such as pasta, meat and dairy products as well as general household products.

“The supermarket won’t tell you this because they don’t want to scare customers away,” said Mr McKenzie.

“But we are heading for a perfect storm. We don’t have anywhere near enough truck drivers to keep supermarket deliveries at their present rate. We lost so many drivers because of Brexit and UK people don’t want to take up the jobs available.”

The grace period for full post-Brexit checks was due to come to an end at the end of March, but the government decided to extend it in order to provide all importing and exporting businesses with more time to adapt to the new trading regulations.

The BRC added that global food prices have hit their highest level for seven years, while shipping costs have tripled since 2019, and commodity prices such as fuel are also climbing.

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