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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Logistics, Catering and Retail, more pressure on Christmas hiring

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These job categories had the most difficulties in October. Warehouse operatives, delivery drivers and retail sales assistants remain in short supply given the current market demand.

Jobs in Logistics, followed by Hospitality & Catering, ranked among the top categories in terms of ads posted between September 15 and November 15, 2021. These two sectors represented 8.5% each of the total job market, which is 167,000 jobs. Jobs in Health continued being the most in-demand at 10.2%, according to the Job Market Insights data. How is this affecting the seasonal demand for workers during the Christmas period?

Compared to the same months of 2019, before the pandemic, this year these categories have displaced the traditional categories of IT, Finance, Engineering and Construction. Logistics and Hospitality have grown 43% and 44% respectively, and now have topped the ranking in terms of total job postings and market share after Health.

Graph JMI.png

Christmas sales also bring about an increase in Retail jobs. But this year, job ads rose sharply compared to 2019. In the same period, Retail jobs have grown 31%, up to 74,000 ads and accounting for 3.8% of all jobs posted.

Jobs in Logistics

Jobs in Logistics and Distribution have consistently grown in 2021 reaching a peak in September and October with an average of 95,000 jobs per month. Amazon has been the top employer within this category with 15% of the postings and rocketing since August across Great Britain.

Top Direct Employers - Logistics and Distribution

September 15 - November 15, 2021


Unique job postings

% of the total*

Amazon Ltd



Yodel Delivery Network Ltd



Tesco Plc       



Royal Mail Plc  



Hermes Logistics Technologies Ltd       



Just Eat Plc    






Deliveroo (Roofoods Ltd)



Royal Mail Group Ltd



Newsteam Group Ltd




*Percentage of the total jobs in Logistics and Distribution.

Jobs in Logistics are concentrated in a few employers and locations. Out of 18,200 companies, the top ten represented 30% of the total job postings in this period (not including recruitment agencies). And the Great London area consolidated 8.6% of the jobs.

Top job titles include warehouse operative, delivery driver, HGV class 1 driver, forklift driver and van driver.

Posted salaries have also increased compared to the same period in 2019. Salaries between £20,000 and £40,000 have augmented more than the rest of pay bands as companies struggle to attract and secure staff in a context of candidate scarcity and growing demand for these positions.

Jobs in Retail

Jobs in Retail have grown steadily since the beginning of 2021, gaining momentum from March onward. In 2019, prior to the pandemic, September and October were the months with the most publications when many companies intensified the hiring process for the Christmas campaign. However, in 2021 the upward trend has been continuous without significant fluctuations specific to the Christmas seasonality. Top employers in this category are led by supermarket chains, headed by Tesco (5.4% of the jobs) and followed by Asda, Iceland, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Aldi.

JMI graph 2.png

Unique job postings - Jobs in Retail


Hard-to-fill positions

The UK labour market is currently experiencing the lowest ratio of unemployed people per vacancy. When we look at the numbers between 2019 and 2021, job offerings have increased, but what is most remarkable is the lack of candidates. These sectors were amongst the most heavily affected during the lockdown and following months, and naturally they are in the process of building up again. 

According to Job Market Insights, hard-to-fill positions are jobs posted multiple times on paid sites with short intervals between publications. These are hot leads that point recruiters towards companies in desperate need of qualified candidates.

In the period from October 15 to November 15, the hardest to fill job categories are Logistics (13% of the total), Hospitality and Catering (12%), Health (10%) and Retail (10%). This means that the difficulty in finding professionals among the top categories is disproportionate to their share in the labor market: Logistics, Hospitality and Retail are overrepresented.

JMI 3.png

These figures are therefore determined by the combination of several key factors: the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the end of the furlough scheme, the run up to Christmas and of course all issues related to foreign workers and Brexit, as previously explained in several reports by REC’s Jobs Recovery Tracker.

Warehouse operatives and delivery drivers are a gold mine for recruiters and final employers as they top the list of hard-to-fill positions heading into Christmas. Despite its aggressive hiring policy, the majority of the unfilled vacancies, such as warehouse operatives, correspond to Amazon. On the other hand, delivery drivers are urgently required by a wide variety of companies offering higher salaries.

Iceland, Asda and Card Factory are the companies with the most unfilled job openings for retail sales assistants. This position is in the lowest pay range (up to £20,000) and equally distributed throughout the country. A similar pattern is seen for kitchen assistant positions: they take longer to be filled compared to other job titles, offer low salaries and are widespread. 




Job Market Insights is a big data analytics tool that provides a 360º view of the labour market. We help recruitment businesses analyse, compare and understand employment trends, identify who is hiring, track competitor behaviour and detect business opportunities with accurate, up-to-date information. We are part of Adevinta, the world’s leading online classifieds group.

This is a guest blog contribution for the REC website. The views expressed by guest writers reflect the individual's personal opinions