Scottish Daily Mail
Rocketing online sales spark fears of delivery chaos
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’