Delivery drivers face prospect of record-breaking number of Christmas parcels

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Posted by: Peter
Posted on: 08/12/2015

Thousands of van drivers recruited to ensure that the year’s predicted 860m parcels are delivered on time, as online buying continues to soar

Van delivery drivers are gearing up for what is anticipated to be the biggest volume of parcels they have ever had to distribute, as shoppers hit their keyboards for a massive spending spree in the run-up to Christmas

In the final three months of the year, retailers are expected to send out a fifth more parcels than in the same period last year and this is expected to peak on the US-inspired discount day known as Black Friday. This year’s Black Friday – on 27 November – could be the UK’s first £1bn sales day, analysts predict, as more retailers and shoppers than ever become involved.

But how does a retail industry, increasingly buoyed by what are often multiple small internet purchases by individual shoppers, cope with the vast number of parcels it has to get to homes and offices? Welcome to delivery UK, a swiftly growing £4.5bn industry that needs a huge and rapid increase in warehouse space, delivery vans, drivers and packers.

With a stronger economy and online shopping on the rise, the number of vans on the road has increased 17% this year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. There are 3.5 million vans registered in Britain, two thirds more than in 1994 when internet shopping was still a dream. Industry insiders reckon that there are about 40,000 delivery drivers at the forefront of a battle between retailers competing to offer the fastest or cheapest deliveries. “We have spent all year planning for Black Friday week,” said Dwain McDonald, chief executive of DPD UK, one of the fastest-growing distribution companies. He expects to deliver 700,000 parcels over the crucial weekend, compared to about 225,000 on a typical weekend.

For the seasonal rush that Black Friday will launch, Amazon’s UK business and the Royal Mail are both hiring 19,000 extra staff.

After a disastrous Black Friday for delivery firm Yodel last year, when it became overwhelmed by parcels, it is recruiting 7,000 extra drivers. The company expects nearly four times as many people to take advantage of deals on 27 November.

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