European parcel carriers gear up for Black Friday volume surge
Parcel delivery operators across Europe are geared up for a flood of shipments over the next few days generated by today’s Black Friday online sales as well as Cyber Monday and other promotions.
Leading online retailers were expecting strong sales today, even though Amazon’s operations were hit by worker protests in the UK and strikes at two locations in Germany in local disputes.
Overall, parcel volumes during the forthcoming mini-peak look likely to be about 10-20% higher than during the same period last year in various European countries, according to diverse forecasts, and operators have invested strongly in additional capacity this year to be ready to cope.
In France, La Poste said it is expecting volumes to double in the next few days and has doubled the number of delivery trucks and vans as well as mobilising all its postal sorting and distribution workers ready for delivery next week.
“Parcel numbers are likely to reach two million a day in France instead of one million on a normal working day,” the country’s biggest delivery operator said. Overall, La Poste expects a 10% rise in the number of Colissimo parcels during the 2018 peak season.
The group’s European parcels business DPDgroup already announced earlier this week that it expects a 20% volume increase during the entire 2018 holiday season (starting from Black Friday), including 15% growth in Germany and 10% in Spain.
In Sweden, PostNord predicts that consumers will spend about SKR 6.5 billion on Black Friday online shopping today, which would be 22% more than last year. At least 25% of Swedes and potentially many more will buy online today, according to a company survey. As a result, the postal operator expects more than 900,000 packages will pass through its network over the weekend, a 25% rise on 2017.
Carin Blom, Retail Analyst at PostNord, commented: "I believe that we will exceed SKR 6 billion this year. However, the growth rate will probably not be as high as last year, which is partly due to the already high volumes. Black Friday has also spread out and now covers sales campaigns throughout the week.”
PostNord has increased peak season capacity in Sweden by opening two new parcel terminals, taken on about 3,000 temporary workers, and introduced sorting and pickup on seven days a week and Saturday deliveries in many areas.
In Spain, Correos is making its “biggest logistics effort in recent years” to cope with the expected surge in volumes. The national postal operator expects volumes to rise by 34% year-on-year in November, due to the double effect of China’s 11.11 Singles Day shopping festival and Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales, and by a further 25% in December.
Its international centre at Madrid’s Barajas Airport is currently handling about twice as many import shipments as usual from China due to the recent 11.11 festival. Overall, the office of exchange expects to sort more than 250,000 items a day during this year’s peak season, nearly 90% of them imports.
To cope with the volume growth, Correos has increased its total daily sorting capacity by more than 200,000 parcels this year and has taken on 3,000 additional staff for the peak season as well as introducing more than 100 new delivery routes. This year it has installed new sorting systems in facilities in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Oviedo in northern Spain.
Overall, the operator has invested a total of €20 million in recent years to modernise its 18 largest logistics centres, which can sort up to 6,000 packages an hour, and to expand its delivery fleet.
For its part, the group’s express parcels subsidiary Correos Express expects to increase its volumes by more than 15% during the holiday season and has invested this year in automating its depots in Vigo, Málaga, Granada and Valencia as well as a new centre in Tarragona, under its ongoing three-year €45 million investment programme.
In the UK, Europe’s biggest e-commerce market, online retail sales are forecast to soar by 12.5% to £8.1 billion during the current “Black Friday week” (19-26 November), according to new figures from IMRG.
In response, all parcel carriers have invested heavily in additional capacity ready for the peak season. For example, Royal Mail, which handled around 149 million parcels during the 2017 Christmas period, has opened six temporary parcel sort centres and will take on about 23,000 seasonal workers.
In Germany, B2C parcel deliveries could grow in the 8-10% range this Christmas compared to 2017, increasing by some 30 million shipments to 330 million items, according to a recent study by the German Parcel and Express Logistics Association (BIEK). Around 25,000 additional delivery staff will be employed by delivery companies this Christmas, it predicted.