One Iceland employee told The Mirror stores are struggling to keep up with demand and customers are ‘frustrated’ at a lack of items – with colleagues worried Christmas will make everything worse
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An Iceland worker says his store is “running low on everything” and warned of “mayhem” when the Christmas shopping season comes.
The employee, who wants to stay anonymous, says his Edinburgh store is “already seeing supplies and shelves running desperately low”.
Last week Iceland managing director Richard Walker also warned of food shortages and asked customers not to panic buy.
The worker said: “It’s getting worse by the week. Christmas will be non-existent at this rate.”
The issue is a shortage of delivery drivers to bring stock to Iceland stores.
Earlier this month Walker said Iceland has been forced to cancel 250 store deliveries a week as it is caught up in a national shortage of lorry drivers.
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This is a 15% fall in the normal level of deliveries, and is happening because Iceland has vacancies for 100 drivers.
The Iceland worker said: “About 4 months ago, we were made aware that our delivery schedule was changing due to a shortage of drivers. Instead of receiving stock six times a week, it was changing to five days a week.
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“This had an immediate impact on our shelves as we were going two days without receiving anything.
“Then when Tuesday came, the stock which did arrive only plugged gaps. This has repeated for four months and the situation is now critical.”
The Iceland employee said the shortages were having an effect on staff.
He added: “I work on the shop floor and it’s depressing. The store I work in has never looked as bad as it does today. Morale is low and we are struggling to keep up with demand.
“We deal with angry customers on a daily basis and it’s frustrating because we cannot give them positive news.”
He added that the shortfalls affect all items stocked in his store.
“Shortages are throughout the board, we are running low on everything,” he said. “I am dreading the run up to Christmas as I have experienced many of them. And know that even when we do have full shelves, it’s just a riot.
“I fear that people’s frustrations will spill over when they realise we just don’t have enough. I can safely say that we will have many items unavailable for sale. This will cause mayhem.”
Iceland has been approached for comment.
To help ease the problem, some of Iceland’s six distribution centres have started using ‘class 2’ drivers rather than HGV drivers.
Class 2 licences allow drivers to handle smaller and more rigid lorries, whereas class 1 drivers operate larger HGVs.
This has forced the government to allow more than 10,000 foreign workers to temporarily work as lorry drivers and in the food sector as ministers look to rescue Christmas from supply shortages.
A temporary visa scheme will see opportunities created for 5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers to take up employment in the UK until Christmas Eve.
The move has been taken in a bid to keep supermarket shelves stocked with turkeys and toys as well as counter delivery difficulties at petrol stations.