UK e-retail ends summer with high Christmas delivery volumes forecast, IMRG MetaPack Delivery Index shows

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The latest August IMRG MetaPack Delivery Index confirms UK retailers are on course to dispatch a record 900m orders or 930m parcels in 2014, with 120 million orders in December alone.

The predicted lull in online retail did occur in August with orders down 13.6% month-on-month. However, this still represents a cumulative growth rate year-on-year of 20%. Based on past e-retail delivery patterns, order volumes are expected to increase by 10% and steadily grow in the run-up to Christmas.

Andrew Starkey, head of e-logistics for IMRG, said: “With three years of data in the Index we can now predict the annual pattern of when and where these deliveries will be made. This means we can confidently anticipate that a record 120 million orders will be dispatched by UK retailers in December alone.”

The Index also revealed that delivery service performance improved during August with close to 94% of deliveries on time which is higher compared to the same period for the last two years. Overall the proportion of orders either late or not delivered at the first attempt was 10.72% in August compared to the monthly average of 11.6% over the last 12 months.

Starkey: “Quality of service is higher this August than in the previous two years which bodes well for the peak period. Some delivery problems relating to address queries seem to be on the rise so retailers need to keep an eye on this.”

A further indication that delivery services are evolving in the UK is the rise in the number of consumers choosing next day/specified day deliveries during the month of August 2014. While economy options remain the most popular, next day/specified day represented 28% of all dispatched orders and 3% of these were weekend deliveries. By comparison, the proportion of next day/specified orders fell to a low of 19% of all orders in 2013.

Angela O’Connell, marketing and strategy director, MetaPack, said: “The revival in premium delivery services will have been driven by many factors. It does suggest that consumers are feeling more comfortable in making last minute purchasing decisions, knowing they can trust retailers to make next day deliveries successfully. Giving customers more choice and freedom on deliveries will underpin how well the industry handles the pressures of the Christmas peak. It seems that August was a dry run for these alternatives and unsurprisingly shoppers have seized the opportunity to take greater control, supporting further investment in Sunday delivery and click and collect services.”