Post & Parcels: Getting Christmas Delivered?

In the UK we spent an estimated twenty billion pounds on Christmas gifts last year, and around a third of our shopping was done online.

This year the volume of festive deliveries looks set to be even higher. With another demanding season underway, Tonight has been behind the scenes to meet the people who are delivering Christmas.

In the film, narrated by Paul Brand, we find out how retail giant Amazon is using robot technology to try to meet Christmas demands. Their warehouse in Swindon is the size of six and a half football pitches, holding 30 million items across three floors. 

In Wallasey on the Wirral, Paul East spent the last 16 years working as a postman for the Royal Mail. But he recently became disillusioned with the service they were offering. Taking matters into his own hands, Paul quit his job and set up his own postal service, delivering letters and parcels for businesses around the Wirral. He says that because he can deliver post immediately, without machinery or processes, he can get items delivered more quickly, and cheaply. Prices for Paul’s parcel deliveries are at least one pound cheaper than Royal Mail prices, and he has also set up Christmas postboxes where people can send Christmas cards for twenty pence cheaper than the price of a first class stamp.

The UK’s biggest dedicated parcel delivery company, Evri, told Tonight they are on track for the busiest Christmas ever. Tonight visits their superhub in Barnsley, which deals with a million parcels every day, a third of their entire network. This year the company has seen a significant rise in parcels sent through their network by individuals, following a rise in second hand selling platforms and online marketplaces. Problems can arise if people don’t package their parcels robustly enough to withstand the sorting process. Across the UK, Evri currently encounter around eighty thousand problem parcels every week.

Tonight visits Tahir in Nottingham, who had a parcel worth £270 stolen from his doorstep earlier this year. Data suggests that parcel theft has increased by 57% in the last year, with two hundred and six million pounds worth of goods reportedly stolen from the doorsteps of UK households. 

While some of us embark on a Christmas shopping frenzy, others may not be receiving anything this Christmas at all. Four years ago, homeware retailer Dunelm launched a Christmas campaign, to help those who may otherwise go without. Tonight visits St Helens, where store worker Kelly has been organising this years’ appeal, receiving gift requests from local charities on behalf of the people they support. This year she has seen signs of how much families are struggling, with children asking for basic items like school rucksacks, deodorant, blankets and hair bobbles. On a national level, across all Dunelm stores, a total of over 100 thousand gifts have been donated this Christmas, 60% more than in previous years.