Scottish Daily Mail

Rock­et­ing online sales spark fears of delivery chaos

- By Sean Poul­ter Con­sumer Af­fairs Ed­i­tor Retail · Shopping Seasons · Shopping · Consumer Goods · Industries · Mount Everest · Royal Mail · Amazon · United Kingdom · France · Black Friday & Cyber Monday · Yodel

AN ex­traor­di­nary surge in Black Fri­day in­ter­net shopping is threat­en­ing to cause a delivery melt­down, ex­perts have warned.

An ad­di­tional 200 mil­lion online or­ders are ex­pected in the run-up to Christ­mas this year – 50 per cent more than last year – as pur­chases online over­take those on the high street for the first time.

And huge dis­counts of up to 90 per cent have been of­fered this week­end by in­ter­net stores such as Boohoo, which are mop­ping up sales while tra­di­tional fash­ion chains have been closed. A ti­dal wave of online or­ders is ex­pected in the four days up to Cy­ber Mon­day, putting mil­lions of items into the courier sys­tem. How­ever, in­dus­try ex­perts worry there are not enough pack­ers, driv­ers and vans to cope as the Black Fri­day week­end – de­scribed as a ‘ Mount Ever­est of Christ­mas peaks’ – falls dur­ing lock­down.

There are fears the coun­try could see a re­peat of the chaos of 2014 when online stores were shocked by a sud­den jump in or­ders from shop­pers try­ing to avoid the queues, jostling and shoving on the high street.

David Jinks, of courier service ParcelHero, said: ‘Black Fri­day could unleash a £8.49bil­lion mon­ster, cre­at­ing ma­jor delivery bot­tle­necks.

‘Delivery net­works are al­ready at full ca­pac­ity and then some. Black Fri­day could well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.’

Explaining the 200 mil­lion ex­tra online or­ders this year, he added: ‘Last year, 387 mil­lion of the 462 mil­lion Christ­mas peak de­liv­er­ies were online shopping or­ders. This year, re­tail­ers’ de­liv­er­ies alone will put an es­ti­mated 592 mil­lion parcels in the sys­tem in the weeks be­fore Christ­mas.

‘Due to Black Fri­day, this Mount Ever­est of Christ­mas peaks will spike be­tween Novem­ber 27-30.

‘It re­ally does seem the black cloud of Black Fri­day 2014 is rolling in once more.’

Royal Mail is tak­ing on 33,000 sea­sonal work­ers, Ama­zon UK is re­cruit­ing 20,000 staff, Her­mes 13,000 and Yodel 3,000, but Mr Jinks fears this will not be enough to meet de­mand.

He said it would have been bet­ter if online re­tail­ers had de­layed the Black Fri­day event un­til af­ter the lock­down ended next week to spread de­mand.

In France, Ama­zon and other ma­jor stores agreed to post­pone Black Fri­day sales un­til De­cem­ber when France’s own lock­down ends. Mr Jinks said: ‘Brits spent a huge £5.55 bil­lion on Black Fri­day-Cy­ber

Mon­day bar­gains last year. With Covid cre­at­ing a base level of de­mand for online sales some 53 per cent higher year on year, we are look­ing at an £8.49bil­lion online event this Novem­ber.

‘That might be a dream for re­tail­ers, but it could quickly turn into a night­mare for their courier part­ners and could pro­pel us back to the mess that was Black Fri­day 2014.’

In 2014, there were scuf­fles in high street stores as bar­gain hunters bat­tled over cheap TVs. As a re­sult, many aban­doned the scrum and hit the in­ter­net in­stead.

Mr Jinks said the rush that year caught many of the UK’s most re­spected brands off-guard.

‘Un­leashed a £8.49bn mon­ster’

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