Published Wednesday 6th May 2020

While Business to Business delivery volumes have dropped dramatically since the lockdown, Business to Consumer deliveries have gone up by 200+% in some cases leaving many Carriers with record volumes, and having to adopt Social Distancing measures in the Hubs and delivery depots.

Royal Mail, Hermes and Yodel have been hit hardest as demand for Tracked services with no POD sky-rockets. However, all the main Parcel Carriers are reporting record volumes with DPD sorting in excess of 1.2 million parcels in a single night.

The likes of B & Q have re-opened some stores and Screwfix are operating safe click and collect services. Other retailers have been forced to close or to sell 100% online in order to keep sales coming in. This has led to Operational issues for Retailers who have experienced a sudden upturn in orders, as the extra Carrier capacity gets used up. Some retailers are weeks behind in unfulfilled orders.

Since Government guidelines were issued around Social Distancing in March 2020, all Carriers ceased obtaining POD’s for deliveries to both domestic and business addresses.

In most cases 2 man crews cannot operate the 2m distance rules and the protocols around entering people’s homes makes domestic delivery to “room of choice” impossible. Therefore ALL operators (both Carriers and Retailers own drivers) have had to either cease deliveries until the lockdown is lifted or opt to delivery to doorstep with no signature.

Deliveries traditionally requiring signature (POD’s) are being delivered and a photograph is being taken with it in situ. No paperwork can change hands so clarity on receivers name is obtained and put into the drivers handheld device, by the driver themselves.

John Lewis, Furniture Village and Dreams are offering doorstep delivery for all in stock items that do not require professional assembly inside the home. DFS, Bensons and Harveys have suspended ALL deliveries until further notice.

Life after Lockdown – return to work

Until we get a definitive update from the government on when and how lockdown will be released, there is no clear path and no Carrier, as yet, has been happy to publish a strategy for service recommencement, specifically for 2 man delivery, that requires professional assembling and/or to room of choice. Disruption to this service may last months before it can fully return to business as usual, however no one knows for sure.

Investment in further PPE (i.e. gloves, masks and potentially face visors) and Driver training on Social Distancing will be a requirement in the short to medium term.

Here’s a look at what European countries have done (taken from Apple News), as at 29th April 2020:

Austria: Has reopened small shops including hardware and garden centres. Mask wearing is compulsory. On Friday, events with 10 people or fewer will be allowed.
Denmark: Has allowed preschool through fifth-grade students to return, and salons, tattoo parlors and dentists have reopened.
France: Lockdown to last until at least May 11, when shops but not restaurants and bars will reopen. Masks will be mandatory on public transportation.
Germany: Small shops can reopen, and secondary schools will begin to reopen on May 3. The country is now making masks mandatory.
Ireland: Quarantine to last until at least May 5, with government officials discussing easing measures.
Italy: Some shops have reopened, and factories and building sites will reopen on May 4. Also next week, visits with relatives will be permitted. Restaurants and bars will be able to reopen in June, but schools are closed until September.
The Netherlands: Primary schools are due to reopen May 11. Many stores are open.
Spain: Manufacturing and construction businesses have reopened. On Sunday, children under 14 were for the first time since the lockdown began allowed to leave their homes with a parent.
Sweden: Most permissive approach among Europe’s large economies. Restaurants and schools are open. There is a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.
Switzerland: Reopening garden centers, salons and other small shops. Gatherings are limited to five people.

U.K.: Lockdown extended until May 7.

About the Author: Charles Reid, joined ERA in 2005, after a 13 year career within the Parcel distribution market with Securicor Omega Express (now Yodel) and latterly ANC Express (now FedEx UK) in a range of Sales and management roles.

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