The UK's biggest supermarkets are set to create at least 32,000 new jobs, in one of the biggest supermarket expansions in history.
Sainsbury's has announced plans to create 20,000 jobs over the next three years, including 6,500 this year, as it strives to catch up with its competitors Asda and Tesco.
Morrisons has also contributed, with plans to create 6,000 jobs, stating that: "There are still many parts of the country where we are under-represented."
Tesco will add 292 stores this year, taking its estate to 3,022, according to IGD forecasts, while Sainsbury's will add 130 to give it 1,123. Asda will see a big step up from 387 to 571, thanks in part to the acquisition of Netto, and Morrisons will add 19, taking it to 477. Waitrose announced plans for 39 more stores last week.
Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of industry expert IGD, said: "Despite the tough economic conditions, the UK food and grocery market is proving resilient. It is growing at a rate of 3.1% and will be worth over £180bn by 2015."
Tesco is already the UK's biggest private-sector employer with 287,669 staff and despite disappointing figures for the retail industry, its expansion would mean 9,000 vacancies this year and next.
Morrisons, with like-for-like sales growth of 1% for the six weeks to 2 January, was accused of lagging behind, but boss Dalton Philips said: "I will not enter in this race for space. I will grow this business at the right speed."