Waitrose has announced it will look to hire as many as 1,850 new order pickers and delivery drivers to meet the surge in online demand from customers heading into Christmas.

The retailer said the new staff would be a combination of temporary and permanent new roles and would be spread across Waitrose stores and its fulfilment centres in Enfield and Coulsdon.

The new recruitment drive will kick off at the beginning of November and continue throughout December as Waitrose prepares for its busiest time of year. 

Waitrose director of online Laura Burbedge said: “This year our online shopping operation has more than trebled and we know that the demand for our Waitrose.com service will continue throughout the festive season. 

“Our customers are planning ahead and adding Christmas items to their online baskets, with seasonal products on Waitrose.com up 250% so far in comparison with last year and turkey orders up by 280%.

“These additional Waitrose.com drivers and pickers will allow us to better support our customers over the Christmas period with their online grocery orders.”

Since the start of 2020, Waitrose has more than trebled the number of online slots to around 190,000 per week and recruited 1,800 additional pickers and drivers.

The retailer also recently announced an expansion of its pilot partnership with Deliveroo, which now services more than 3 million customers from 30 stores across the UK. 

It follows a broader trend across the grocery sector, where Covid restrictions have seen the numbers of people using online and click-and-collect grocery services spike. 

Big-four grocers such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s have doubled – and in some cases tripled – their available online delivery slots since March.

Discounters such as Aldi have also made tentative steps into the online delivery space, with food boxes and click-and-collect services being piloted.