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Amazon £3k sign-on bonus sparks Christmas shopping fear as high street staff lured to retail giant

Retailers warn they could be starved of staff this Christmas because Amazon is offering signing-on bonuses of up to £3,000.

The shortage of workers in shops, hospitality businesses and warehouses has led to a race to fill hundreds of thousands of roles ahead of the vital festive period.

Industry leaders say Amazon's 'golden hello' could leave smaller rivals struggling to keep deliveries flowing and shelves stocked as they cannot afford better wages. High streets are already being battered by higher costs for energy, staff and shipped imports as they struggle to recover from the pandemic.

Staff shortages in warehouses could lead to longer delivery times and mean last-minute shoppers are left without presents. To meet the peak in demand at Christmas, Amazon is trying to recruit 20,000 temporary staff.

An advert on the Amazon jobs website seen by the Daily Mail yesterday showed workers starting in Exeter by October 30 will get a £3,000 bonus.

Retailers warn they could be starved of staff this Christmas because Amazon is offering signing-on bonuses of up to £3,000. The shortage of workers in shops, hospitality businesses and warehouses has led to a race to fill hundreds of thousands of roles ahead of the vital festive period

The warehouse staff will also receive wages of £10 an hour, or £18,200 a year – close to £2,000 more than the national minimum wage. They can also supplement this with overtime rates of between £15 and £20 an hour. Other Amazon sites are offering between £1,000 and £2,000 bonuses for starters. There are fears that many shops, pubs and restaurants will be unable to compete with the pay being offered by big operators.

Many larger firms have already followed Amazon's suit. Asos has been forced to raise hourly wages for warehouse staff from £9.65 to between £12 and £13, while jewellery chain Pandora today announced a £1,000 pay rise for its 1,200 UK staff.

Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, said yesterday: 'We don't have the capacity to raise wages by those levels. We can't compete.'

He added: 'Our members are telling us that they are getting stock through, the challenge will be replenishment.

'It does seem strange buying for Christmas before Halloween has arrived but that is how it is going to have to be.'

Andrew Goodacre (pictured), chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, said yesterday: 'We don't have the capacity to raise wages by those levels. We can't compete'

Ian Wright, who heads the Food and Drink Federation, said: 'There isn't a vast reservoir of British workers just waiting to be fought over. It's incredibly difficult to get Christmas staff labour in many areas. It will mean higher prices and fewer choices on shelves.'

Amazon's hiring has even hit care homes. Operators claim that staff are quitting for the retailer's higher pay and fear there could be 170,000 vacancies in the sector by the end of the year.

Yodel warned it had seen a big spike in orders in the past fortnight, following warnings from online sellers that parents were already 'panic buying' toys.

Mike Hancox of the courier business said: 'It has been a big last two weeks in categories like toys.'

Government ministers have admitted there will be Christmas shortages, while port bosses have warned of further chaos with containers stacked up on quays.

 By Sean Poulter Consumer Affairs Correspondent for the Daily Mail

Raymond Blanc has raised fears that apples and pears in Britain's orchards will rot due to a shortage of pickers.

The Michelin star chef is backing a campaign by growers for the Government to double the number of pickers allowed in to Britain under a seasonal worker visa scheme from 30,000 to 60,000.

Raymond Blanc has raised fears that apples and pears in Britain's orchards will rot due to a shortage of pickers

Blanc, who has an orchard of 2,500 trees at his Oxfordshire restaurant, said: 'Britain produces some of the finest apple and pear varieties in the world, and it is hugely important to me that we support our homegrown produce.' 

Robert Rendall, a third-generation fruit farmer at Boxford Farms in Suffolk, said: 'Although we've tried to recruit British workers, only a handful have responded to job advertisements. The seasonal workers' scheme is limited, so we need to see that extended if we're going to have enough available workers.'

 By Business Correspondent for the Daily Mail

Shortages and soaring prices are being fuelled by 'cartel-like' behaviour in the shipping industry, trade bodies have claimed.

Make UK, which represents the manufacturing sector, and the British Chambers of Commerce have called on the competition watchdog to investigate if firms are 'colluding' to raise transportation prices.

Companies have reported paying ten times as much to ship containers from countries such as China and Bangladesh – pushing the price of a 40ft container to around £11,000.

Companies have reported paying ten times as much to ship containers from countries such as China and Bangladesh – pushing the price of a 40ft container to around £11,000

The rising costs are expected to boost shipping companies' profits to £110billion between them – as much as the previous 20 years combined.

And it has led to dire warnings about the cost of Christmas as manufacturers threaten to raise prices on items such as clothing and toys.

However the shipping industry said the price rises were the result of 'unprecedented demand', the Sunday Telegraph reported. The Competition and Markets Authority said it had received reports of 'collusion and price fixing' and was taking the allegations seriously. It can fine companies guilty of price fixing up to a tenth of their global revenues.