Retailers Urge Christmas Shoppers to Order Early Due to Delivery Disruption 

Retailers Urge Christmas Shoppers to Order Early Due to Delivery Disruption

Shoppers have been warned by retailers and delivery service providers to make their Christmas purchases early this time. Strikes by workers at the Royal Mail postal service are causing delivery delays across the nation.

Anticipating the delivery bottleneck being caused by seasonal labour shortages and Royal Mail workers’ strike, several companies have brought their Christmas delivery deadlines forward and are urging online shoppers to complete their purchases earlier than usual. Home appliances store Currys, fashion brand Superdry and clothing and homeware retailer the White Company are among firms that have backdated their order schedules after experiencing delivery delays.

In an interview given to British news outlet the Guardian, David Jinks, the head of consumer research at delivery service operator ParcelHero said:

“The clock is certainly clicking down for final online dates in time for Christmas. That’s not being helped by strikes and a shortage of seasonal workers, such as warehouse operatives and delivery drivers, post-Brexit.”

On Friday, members of the Royal Mail postal workers union began strikes that threaten to disrupt deliveries across the country leading up to the busiest time of the year, Christmas. The strikes organised by the Communications Workers Union (CWU) are related to a dispute between the company and employees regarding an annual pay-rise issue. 

Royal Mail, who is facing huge losses this year, offered to increase payment for workers by 9% over the next 18 months in a meeting with the CWU in June. However, this offer was rejected by the union, demanding the company increase payment at rates matching inflation, which as of October stands at 11.1% – the highest ever recorded in the last 40 years. Royal Mail has argued that it is not in the financial position to accept the union’s terms, as the company is losing £1 million a day and will need to restructure as it plans to cut 10,000 jobs by August 2023. The government-funded postal service is expecting losses of £350 million for this year.  

Retailers Urge Christmas Shoppers to Order Early Due to Delivery Disruption

In response, the CMU planned a 18-day workers strike leading up to Christmas. The strikes conducted over the year have already cost the company £100 million in losses. In November, Royal Mail requested the government to allow it to stop delivering letters on Saturdays, claiming that it was not in the financial position to operate after incurring a £219 million loss from March to September. 

On Friday, more than 100,000 Royal Mail workers began the first day of Christmas protests across the country, with 15,000 CMU members participating in a demonstration held at Westminster. Postal workers are set to take industrial action on Sunday, as well as on 14, 15, 23 and 24 December. Royal Mail, which accuses the labour union of “holding Christmas to ransom”, has asked customers to send their Christmas postcards and presents early this time to make sure they are delivered on time. 

“Strike action has already cost our people 1,200 each. The money allocated to the pay deal risks being eaten away by the costs of further strike action. The CWU is striking at our busiest time, deliberately holding Christmas to ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country,” said a spokesperson for Royal Mail to the Guardian. 

Superdry has warned customers that its standard delivery services will take up to 14 days to arrive, compared to the usual period of 5 days within the order being placed. Currys is experiencing delivery delays in “some areas” and has notified on its website that the last date for placing standard delivery orders was December 18. Last week, the electrical appliances retailer suspended its contract with the Royal Mail to avoid being further disrupted by the workers’ strike. According to its website, the White Company has moved its standard delivery deadline for Christmas orders to midnight on December 19, and final date for order with next-day delivery to midday December 22. 

The Royal Mail strike is putting pressure on other courier firms who are also facing delays due to increased demand and shortage of workers in-line with supply. 

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