Australia Post urges consumers to start Christmas shopping early

The head of Australia Post is urging consumers to start thinking about their Christmas shopping now as the national postal service grapples with lengthy delays caused by a surge in online shopping.

Rodney Boys, the company’s acting chief executive, said parcel volumes were already at Christmas-like levels due to more than 15 million Australians living under lockdown.

Australia Post is taking on more staff to deal with the surge in home deliveries. Credit:Justin McManus

Posties and delivery drivers are delivering more than 10 million parcels every week, with more than 50 per cent of Australian households purchasing something online last month. It’s a trend set to continue, with no firm date for when bricks and mortar retail stores will reopen.

“This Christmas is certainly going to be the busiest we’ve ever seen,” Mr Boys told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

“It is important shoppers start thinking about their Christmas shopping now and send gifts early, especially if they’re posting overseas.”

International cut-off dates for some countries are as early as November 16.

Australia Post’s acting chief executive Rodney Boys.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Last month the company began a recruitment drive to employ more than 4000 extra staff to speed up the delivery of parcels and boost its workforce, which is currently grappling with 500 staff members being forced to isolate and await COVID-19 test results on any given day.

It is also setting up temporary warehouses to help process more parcels, chartering extra freighters across the country and delivering mail on weekends.

“We know that delays are frustrating, but we are asking our customers for their patience and to allow an extra couple of days for their parcels to arrive,” Mr Boys said.

The Australia Post website estimates that most non-express parcels from NSW to Victoria are delivered within seven business days, with 95 per cent delivered within 11 business days.

Parcel volumes are currently through the roof due to increased demand.Credit:Jason South

Leroy Lazaro, the Victorian branch secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said parcel distribution centres were operating 24 hours a day as workers struggled to keep up with the unprecedented volumes of parcels.

“They are inundated with products,” he said. “They are working extra hours in order to cope with the requirements. It is challenging.”

Earlier this month, Australia Post stopped collecting parcels from online retailers in a bid to catch up on the shipment backlog and reduce delays.

But some retailers say they are continuing to bear the brunt of customers’ grievances about Australia Post delays.

Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra has repeatedly urged consumers to start their Christmas shopping early.

“We’re seeing a record surge in online sales with so many people subject to prolonged lockdowns and limited physical shopping options,” he said.

“This has significantly increased online demand and is contributing to the stress our supply chains are already under with state border controls and limited domestic flights.”

He said some distribution centres and warehouses were also grappling with reduced staffing levels due to COVID-19 cases and this had dented productivity.

“Whilst a reopening is on the cards in locked down parts of the country in the coming weeks and months, these supply chain issues are likely to be with us right through to Christmas, so consumers should consider shopping early to avoid disappointment.

“The key message for consumers in all of this is to be prepared and don’t leave your Christmas shopping till the last minute.”

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