The new Covid-19 variant could have a devastating effect on Christmas, warns the international delivery expert ParcelHero. It says the 48-hour closure of French ports means many UK-bound goods and food deliveries were delayed at a critical time.
ParcelHero is also warning that the unexpected closure of thousands of ‘non-essential’ stores at peak shopping time – as emergency Tier 4 restrictions bite – will mean many more online shopping orders and gifts being sent. It may all add up to Christmas being postponed for thousands of families.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says: ‘We all have to wake up and smell the eggnog. There is now unprecedented pressure on supply chains and deliveries. Everyone must brace themselves for items not arriving in time for the Big Day.
‘Retailers need to talk to their supply chain managers and delivery partners and get real about what can still be achieved. Some of their online final order dates now look highly optimistic.
‘Operation Stack, the emergency plan devised for a no-deal Brexit, was put in place, but there are still miles of container trucks backed up towards Dover as French ports temporarily closed to UK lorries and cars. This will have a knock-on effect on deliveries to the UK. The number of trucks arriving in the UK from the EU has been slashed as businesses and drivers could not risk their trucks being caught in huge delays returning to France.
‘France is now putting protocols in place to get goods moving again, but given the critical timing, the damage has already been done.
‘International parcels mostly travel by airfreight and will be less impacted by the closure of EU ports, so most ParcelHero services are unaffected, but we have to be realistic about how many goods are arriving in the UK now as a whole – especially larger items arriving by container lorries.
‘This crisis is compounded by the unexpected shuttering of thousands of High Street stores just days before Christmas because of emergency Tier 4 measures. Many thousands of shoppers have been forced into unplanned, last-minute online shopping, leading to a surge in orders in the last few days before Christmas.
‘Not only retailers need to reassess the situation. We all need to get realistic about how much ordering we can still achieve before the 25th. Even before Christmas peak began, most couriers and retailers were dealing with 50% more home deliveries because of the impact of Covid-19. Additionally, over the last fortnight, British ports had become increasingly backed-up because of Brexit and Covid, causing long delays as they attempted to unload everything from Lego and scooters to Ikea furniture.
‘It all means shoppers must take retailers’ final order dates with a huge grain of salt. If you are still ordering gifts online, be prepared to pay extra for whatever the fastest delivery option is; don’t rely on free shipping if other options are available. Even if you do this, it’s best to have a back-up plan for your kids. Christmas isn’t cancelled this year but it may be postponed.
‘For more information on how retailers can reduce the impact of Covid on their business by comparing carriers’ prices and services, see ParcelHero’s updated guide at https://www.parcelhero.com/en-gb/uk-courier-services