Cy­ber Monday: 4m parcels ‘will be late’

Shops can’t han­dle on­line de­mand, ex­pert claims

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Sean Poul­ter Con­sumer Af­fairs Edi­tor

THE de­liv­ery of more than four mil­lion web pur­chases made on Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Monday could be de­layed.

A lo­gis­tics ex­pert says re­tail­ers do not have the staff, com­puter sys­tems or couri­ers to cope with the huge spike in sales.

Last year many stores’ de­liv­ery op­er­a­tions went into melt­down fol­low­ing the Black Fri­day surge. There were long de­lays, with one courier firm forced to stop ac­cept­ing new parcels tem­po­rar­ily and free­lance de­liv­ery driv­ers com­plain­ing they were swamped.

This year’s prob­lems could af­fect as many as one in ten of the more than 40mil­lion items pur­chased – although they should ar­rive be­fore Christ­mas.

Shop­pers spent a record £1.1bil­lion on­line on Fri­day – up 36 per cent on the same day last year and an all-time record for UK web stores. The re­tail in­dus­try pre­dicted another £ 943mil­lion on Cy­ber Monday yes­ter­day – sup­pos­edly the spe­cific day for on­line bar­gain-hunt­ing – which would be a rise of 31 per cent on 2014.

The fig­ures could spell a dis­ap­point­ing Christ­mas for bricks-and­mor­tar High Street stores – many of which failed to at­tract shop­pers de­spite big pro­mo­tions. Lo­gis­tics ex­pert Stu­art Higgins, from LCP Con­sult­ing, said Black Fri­day’s web or­ders alone equated to around 22mil­lion parcels, with a sim­i­lar vol­ume gen­er­ated yes­ter­day.

But he added: ‘A stag­ger­ing 10 per cent of that won’t be de­liv­ered on time and that’s be­cause re­tail­ers haven’t got their back end ful­fil­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties – their or­gan­i­sa­tion, pro­cesses and in­fra­struc­ture – in place to cope with the mar­ket­ing hype that has been cre­ated.’

He told BBC Break­fast that de­liv­ery de­lays risk bring­ing the en­tire sales event – im­ported to Bri­tain from the US – into dis­re­pute. ‘Re­tail­ers need to ask them­selves, should they con­tinue to prom­ise against a mar­ket­ing front end and not be able to de­liver in the back end, or should they wind back their of­fers in or­der to be able to guar­an­tee they can de­liver to the cus­tomer each and ev­ery time,’ he said. While on­line spend­ing has taken off over the past four days, the num­ber of cus­tomers vis­it­ing the High Street, malls and out-of-town re­tail parks was down on last year.

The shift may have been driven by ugly scenes on Black Fri­day 2014, when shop­pers pushed, shoved and fought over cut-price TVs.

The com­pany Spring­board, which mea­sures shop­per num­bers, said the to­tal vis­it­ing all stores fell by 8 per cent on Black Fri­day com­pared to a year ago. High Street shop­per num­bers were down 9.3 per cent. John Lewis said Black Fri­day 2015 was its big­gest ever trad­ing day – with sales up by 11.9 per cent on last year – but the suc­cess was driven by its web­site.

The re­tailer in­sisted its de­liv­ery ser­vices were able to cope with the or­ders, which at one stage ar­rived at a rate of 4.9 ev­ery sec­ond.

Pop­u­lar items were wear­able gad­gets such as Fit­bit fit­ness track­ers, which saw sales rise 1,329 per cent on last year. Dyson vac­uum clean­ers, GHD hair straight­en­ers and Lego also sold well.

‘De­liver each and ev­ery time’

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