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Online retail giant Amazon has said it will create a further 7,000 UK jobs this year to meet growing demand. Amazon said it had already added 3,000 roles so far in 2020, and so by the end of the year it will have created a total of 10,000 new jobs.

This will take its total permanent UK workforce to more than 40,000.

Amazon says the new jobs will be permanent and pay a minimum of £9.50 an hour. It is also recruiting 20,000 seasonal posts for the festive period. The company has faced criticism in the past from unions over the way it treats staff and health and safety.

Shifting trends

The coronavirus crisis and lockdowns, which saw many High Street shops temporarily closed, prompted massive growth in online shopping, benefiting online giants such as Amazon.

The latest retail sales figures showed that UK online sales in July were more than 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels in February.

Online sales as a proportion of all UK retail sales hit a record high of more than 30% in May, before falling back to more than 28% in July.

Amazon took on thousands of temporary workers during the pandemic, and it says many of them will now be able to move into these new permanent roles.

The company is recruiting at more than 50 sites. It said the creation of the new roles, which will include engineers, graduates, human resources, IT, health and safety and finance specialists, as well as the teams who will pick, pack and ship customer orders, was in response to growing customer demand.

“At the centre of the job creation programme are three new, state-of-the-art fulfilment centres in Darlington, Durham and Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, each fitted out with advanced Amazon Robotics technology and each creating more than 1,000 new permanent roles,” the firm said in a statement.

“Construction of these new fulfilment centres began last year. Darlington started operations in May and the sites in Durham and Sutton-in-Ashfield will launch later this autumn.”

Amazon’s “huge expansion” in the UK “comes as little surprise, given the massive surge in sales the tech giant has experienced, as the e-commerce sector boomed during the pandemic,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“Despite spending billions of dollars gearing itself up to operate through the coronavirus crisis, Amazon still delivered a huge increase in profits during the second quarter.

“With expansion planned right across the UK, High Street retailers are going to have to deliver some dramatic changes if they’re to compete with the king of e-commerce,” she added.

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