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Is Britain bound for courier meltdown? Online stores warn delays amid extra parcels this Christmas

Online stores are warning of delays and bringing forward their last order dates amid concerns of a meltdown in the courier system.

Many are scrapping express delivery options and some admit the standard delivery time could be up to 14 days.

Customers of online fashion giant Boohoo, which has seen a boom in orders during lockdown and was promoting a 99-per-cent-off sale last week, seem to have been badly affected.

Many have been complaining on social media about paying extra for next-day deliveries which are not being honoured, while some have faced delays of two weeks.

Online stores warning of delays with many scrapping express delivery options. The revelations raise concerns that many people relying on internet shopping for their Christmas presents may be disappointed. (stock image)

The revelations raise concerns that many people relying on internet shopping for their Christmas presents may be disappointed.

The recent lockdown and a switch to online buying is predicted to put an extra 200million parcels into the courier system this Christmas.

However, there are not enough vans and drivers to cope, despite a huge recruitment campaign by the Post Office, Amazon, Yodel, Hermes and others.

David Jinks, of home delivery experts ParcelHero, said: ‘Some retailers are struggling in the face of unprecedented demand. It’s too early to say if it will snow at Christmas, but we can forecast a delivery meltdown if stores don’t pull back final order dates dramatically.’ 

He said some stores are taking action. For example, Agent Provocateur, The White Company and Topshop have moved the last order date from December 23 to 21. Evans Cycles are back from December 23 to 17.

Mr Jinks said several stores are going even further. For example, Cath Kidston has suspended next-day deliveries. 

New Look advises customers to check delivery times when placing an order as they are ‘subject to change during our busy periods’. 

The recent lockdown and a switch to online buying is predicted to put an extra 200million parcels into the courier system this Christmas.  However, there are not enough vans and drivers to cope, despite a huge recruitment campaign (stock image)

Superdry is quoting two delivery times, depending on whether it is sourcing items from its UK or Belgian warehouses.

Topshop has suspended ‘express to home’ and ‘express to parcel shop’ services after going into administration. And The White Company warned of potential delivery times of up to 14 days on standard shipping near Christmas and has suspended next-day deliveries.

Mr Jinks said: ‘Due to Covid, Christmas was always going to stretch retailers. Last year, 387million of the 462million Christmas peak deliveries were online shopping orders. 

'This year, retailers’ deliveries alone will put an estimated 592million parcels in the system in the weeks before Christmas. That’s in addition to all the parcels people are sending to their friends and relations during lockdown.

‘Given the strain on delivery services already, we won’t be at all surprised if many more retailers change to even earlier final order dates as Christmas nears.’ 

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