UK parcel volumes soar in December

Parcel volumes soared over Christmas – despite a “tsunami effect” on demand caused by exceptional sales activity over the Black Friday weekend, according to new figures out today.

The latest IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index shows that parcel volumes in 2014 were up 14% on the previous year, with December up 28% on November and 11.6% up on December 2013.

IMRG and MetaPack estimate that the final volume of parcels dispatched by UK retailers through UK carriers in 2014 was 920 million, in line with expectations.

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The strong performance is in contrast to a 5% growth in e-tail sales in December. This was due to record orders being placed on Black Friday (November 28), and associated dispatches being delivered in December, the trade bodies said.

The result created an e-retail delivery “tsunami” with a fall in volume either side of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday (December 1) weekend.

Overall, December still accounted for the usual 13% of the UK’s annual volume, but the compression of so many orders into such a short space of time overwhelmed some retailer and carrier operations, with the result that ‘on time’ delivery performance fell from a record November high of 93% to a record December low of 85.2%.

However, the disruption to service levels was short-lived, according to IMRG head of e-Logistics Andrew Starkey.

“The concentration of demand over the super sales weekend caused a spike in orders on top of already record volumes for the Christmas shopping period. Some retailers could not pick and pack orders fast enough and the change in the demand pattern temporarily overwhelmed some collection and sortation operations. However, after a short disruption in service levels the industry responded heroically and brought Christmas in on time.”

MetaPack marketing and strategy director Angela O’Connell added: “We saw almost all carriers clearing their pre-Christmas deliveries so effectively that many orders scheduled for delivery after Boxing Day were delivered before the 25th. There’s no escaping retailers and carriers need to consider how to manage another Black Friday peak but the data shows final mile deliveries coped very well with Christmas 2014’s record volumes.”

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