The introduction of a third national lockdown for England and new Brexit red tape at borders has not created severe delays, says the home delivery expert ParcelHero. However, it cautions that supermarket slots remain scarce in some areas, while Brexit has created new bureaucracy and costs, forcing smaller EU sellers to abandon the UK market.
Following the sudden imposition of new lockdowns across the UK, the courier services expert ParcelHero says retailers and home delivery networks are braced for a massive surge in deliveries. It says that, unlike the first lockdown, online retailers and their delivery partners are well-prepared for the huge rise in demand.
The sudden imposition of Lockdown 3.0 in England together with strict, new Brexit red tape have stretched delivery networks this week. So far, however, there have not been dramatic delays to parcels and goods deliveries, says the parcel comparison site.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT said, ‘Supermarket websites crashed on Monday evening when the lockdown was announced. This comes at a time when Brexit has increased courier costs and created the need for significant new paperwork. Even so, with the exception of supermarket slot availability in some areas, most couriers and retailers’ services are coping well with the changes. So far, there seems little danger of a return to March 2020’s delays and shortages.
‘There’s no doubt January will be a rollercoaster ride for retailers and delivery companies across the UK. The double whammy of Brexit and Covid as we enter 2021 is something retailers and couriers have been concerned about and planning towards for months. Of course, delivery networks are stretched by the sudden announcement of a third national lockdown for England. Similar measures have been taken across the devolved nations of the UK. However, the problems so far are largely to do with the surge in shoppers panicking over news of the lockdown and attempting to log onto supermarket delivery networks en masse.
‘The situation for supermarket deliveries is far different than it was in the dark days of the first lockdown last March. Sites did glitch on Monday as news of the lockdown broke, but were up and running again on Tuesday, although deliveries remain restricted in some areas. Once the initial panic buying subsides, we believe booking problems will improve significantly. All the major supermarkets and delivery networks have hired thousands more staff, such as drivers and warehouse operatives, to ensure they can meet demand. Online sales have been 50% up on pre-Covid levels for many months now and national retailers are in a far better position to fulfil orders.
‘So-called “non-essential” stores catering to hobbies and high-tech can assist our well-being but they are shut once more. However, they now have a well-oiled approach to e-commerce and are geared up for online shopping in ways many were not back in March 2020.
‘Also this week, Britain’s departure from the EU has created delivery stresses but these are not unmanageable at the moment. ParcelHero is currently very busy with no appreciable fall in international orders but, so far, we are not receiving many reports of undue delays at borders. However, this situation could change over the coming days and we are monitoring things closely.
‘That’s not to say Brexit is entirely pain-free, however. The new red tape will hit anyone trying to send a parcel to the EU. Everyone needs to fill in an online form including detailed item descriptions and the reason for sending their parcel. In addition, VAT-registered sellers who wish to avoid delays must quote their EORI numbers and the tariff codes of the goods they are shipping. However, sites including ParcelHero and ParcelCompare take individuals and traders step-by-step through the new requirements.
‘There is further bad news for customers and sellers. Most international couriers have increased their prices by around 5 euros (approx. £4.50) on parcels crossing the EU-UK border. Further charges may be incurred on heavier packages. That will push up the final price UK shoppers pay for purchases from EU sellers. Additionally, the UK Government now requires all EU companies selling to Brits to register for UK VAT. Most countries do not demand this and, as a result, some smaller European traders have decided to abandon the UK market entirely.
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