Shoppers are already booking Christmas food delivery slots, with supermarkets that have opened spaces seeing exceptionally high demand.
Many customers are concerned about getting deliveries for the festive season in time, as some foods are could be in short supply thanks to a lack of lorry drivers.
As a result, many are planning their Christmas shopping much earlier than usual, with major supermarkets such as Ocado and Waitrose already saying they have limited slots left.
Consumers are already booking their Christmas food delivery slots months in advance
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: ‘Currently, the biggest threat to Christmas remains the shortage of HGV drivers, who play an essential role moving food and other goods from farms/factories to warehouses, to shops.
‘With a shortfall of around 90,000 drivers in the UK, the Government’s creation of 5,000 visas will barely scratch the surface on alleviating problem.’
He adds: ‘Supermarkets alone need at least 15,000 HGV drivers for their businesses to be able to operate at full capacity ahead of Christmas and avoid disruption or availability issues.
‘The Government must rapidly extend its visa scheme, both in size and scope, to HGV drivers in all sectors of the retail industry.
‘Without action, millions of households across the country face disruption this Christmas.’
This is Money spoke to supermarkets to see which have already made slots available, how much demand they have seen, and when more spaces will be coming online.
Sainsbury’s has not yet released its Christmas slots, but has advised customers to check its groceries online site for details coming soon.
Like some other retailers, it offers customers a special delivery pass which means they can get priority booking. This costs from £10 for three months.
Its click-and-collect service is also available, and this is free if you spend at least £40 – or £4 if you spend less.
Waitrose Christmas delivery slots are available to book now, and it has already seen strong demand.
Christmas slots are from the 20 to 24 December, whilst slots for 19 December and before will be released in the normal way.
If customers are choosing items from the grocer’s ‘entertaining’ range, which offers ready-made party food, there is also the option to select ‘entertaining collection’ slot.
These are different to the regular grocery collection slots and are specifically for products from its entertaining range.
A Waitrose spokesperson said: ‘Across the partnership we’re doing everything we can to make Christmas special for our customers.
‘We are working closely with our suppliers and are very confident that we’ll have a fantastic array of products to provide our customers with everything they need over the festive season.
‘We have Christmas food and drink arriving in our shops from this week and throughout the run up to Christmas.’
Customers with priority delivery services can often book their Christmas slots first
Ocado told This is Money availability for its slots was extremely limited, and said demand for deliveries was up on last year with slots selling very quickly.
It said that some extra slots may become available when shoppers finalise or cancel their plans, so those looking to book might get lucky if they keep checking the website.
Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer said its Christmas slots were now open for customers to order everything they need for their festive feasts.
They will need to collect their order from their nearest M&S store between 22 and 24 December.
It said it was confident it will have a full supply of turkeys and other fresh products this Christmas due to its ‘deep and longstanding partnerships with M&S Select farms and suppliers.’
Tesco Christmas delivery slots will first go live to its Delivery Saver customers at 6am on Tuesday 16 November.
Delivery Saver membership costs £7.99 per month, and gets you unlimited deliveries which are free for orders over £40, with slots bookable up to four weeks in advance.
For non-Delivery Saver customers, slots open at 6am on Tuesday 23 November.
It said it had good availability, with deliveries arriving at its stores and distribution centres across the UK every day.
It added that while the industry-wide shortage of HGV drivers has led to some distribution challenges, it is working hard to address these and to plan for the months ahead, so that customers can get everything they need.
As part of its detailed Christmas planning, Tesco said it had also opened ‘additional capacity’ in its distribution network, so it had extra space for stock.
Morrisons revealed very little information said it would be confirming details on its delivery slots in due course.
Asda also said it hasn’t released its delivery slots yet and did not advise when it might be doing so.
Many customers have taken to social media to say they have already booked their Christmas delivery slot, or to vent their frustration when they have been unable to get hold of one.
Some are saying it is has not been possible to book, despite logging on to a supermarket’s website as soon as the slots became available.
Others who don’t usually book their slots so far in advance are doing so this year, just in case.
This Ocado Smart Pass customer said there were no Christmas slots available when he looked
One Waitrose consumer said he could not find any Christmas delivery slots available online
Customers that don’t usually shop in advance for their Christmas goods are doing so this year
Although one Ocado customer couldn’t get a slot, he said he was able to at another retailer