Royal Mail is aiming to reap the benefits of a bumper Christmas for online shopping with plans to create a record number of temp jobs this year, as it gears up for a surge in parcel deliveries from UK consumers stuck in lockdown from the second wave of Covid-19.
The company, which usually employs about 20,000 temporary festive staff each year, is boosting this figure up to 33,000 for 2020, with the majority being assigned to work in sorting offices, delivery vans and data centres.
Royal Mail chief HR officer Sally Ashford explained: “During these unprecedented times we believe it is critical that Royal Mail continues to deliver.
“We want to do our best to deliver Christmas for our customers and support the effort on the pandemic. This helps the whole country to celebrate and stay safe during these difficult times.”
The festive season is always Royal Mail’s crucial period, but with a steep fall in direct mail volumes as well as a predicted decline in people sending Christmas cards, this year could be make or break for the postal giant.
In its most recent results, Royal Mail said it had delivered 177 million more parcels in the five months to August 30, up 34% year on year, with revenues up 33%. At the same time, it delivered 1.1 billion fewer letters, with revenues down 21.5%. Total revenues rose by £139m.
In recent weeks it has stepped up its activity in the parcels market, including the new Parcel Collect service, which, as the name suggests, will see Royal Mail start collecting parcels and mail from people’s homes.
It has also launched a marketing campaign to promote the Click & Drop online postage scheme, which enables businesses and consumers to pay online, print off labels and then despatch packages.
The retail market is also banking on a Christmas bonanza to help rescue Covid-stricken revenues.
John Lewis was one of the first out of the blocks; it launched its online seasonal store in August, ten days earlier than last year, following a 370% increase in searches on its website. The retailer said shoppers were using the summer lockdown to hunt for Christmas trees, cards, wrapping paper and baubles.
And, according to a new report by delivery platform Shift, Brits say they will spend 31% more on gifts on average this year, while two thirds (67%) plan to do all their Christmas shopping online, up from 59% last year.
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