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The John Lewis Partnership is looking to fill thousands of seasonal jobs to meet increased demand around Christmas.

It plans to recruit more than 7,000 temporary workers across its UK John Lewis and Waitrose stores and fulfilment centres.

New joiners will be offered free food and drink to “help ensure we can attract the help we need”, it said.

The chain is also looking to hire 550 permanent, full-time, driver and warehouse jobs.

The partnership is hiring people for its supermarkets, department stores and fulfilment centres, including delivery drivers for its online grocery division.

The employee-owned business said on Wednesday that the number of temporary roles on offer marked an increase of 2,000 on the previous year.

Nikki Humphrey, people director at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “We know that as the first Christmas after lockdown, customers will want to make it really special and we’re throwing everything we can into helping them celebrate – our festive team will have a crucial role to play.”

“We look forward to welcoming people into our team across the country,” she added.

The jobs will be advertised online from Thursday, with 4,700 temporary roles available in Waitrose stores and 2,300 across John Lewis.

The move comes after the number of job vacancies in the UK surged past one million for the first time.

According to new official figures released on Wednesday, the number of jobs in the three months to August rose above one million for the first time since records began in 2001.

The most popular sectors in terms of vacancies were social work, hospitality, science, retail and manufacturing.

But business lobby groups warned that demand for more staff had reached a critical point.

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said that firms faced an “acute hiring crisis”.

“With Brexit and Covid-19 driving a more deep-seated decline in labour supply, the end of furlough is unlikely to be a silver bullet to the ongoing shortages,” he said.

“These recruitment difficulties are likely to dampen the recovery by limiting firms’ ability to fulfil orders and meet customer demand.”

Supermarket bosses have said that it is vital to fix the labour shortage problems before key trading over the Christmas period.

The John Lewis Partnership will also launch Christmas promotions in shops from October and will use a new 300,000 sq-ft distribution centre in Leicestershire to ensure it can meet demand ahead of the Black Friday sales.

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