Courier fleets have ramped up driver recruitment and expanded vehicle numbers to meet peak seasonal demand this winter, which has increased by as much as 132% since the summer.
A spokesperson for Yodel told Commercial Fleet it has recorded this large an increase in deliveries due to a strong rise in the number of people selling items online, with more people making use of marketplaces like Vinted and eBay.
According to Yodel's research of 19,000 people, almost two in five (39%) people in the UK are looking to online marketplaces for gifts this Christmas, showing a steady growth in this area.
The ongoing shift of consumers towards online shopping has also seen business to consumer (B2C) parcel volumes continuing to grow. Volumes for recipe boxes that spiked 173% during the pandemic have continued to rise since (73%), while volumes in fashion parcels have increased by 63% year-to-date.
UPS said demand is higher than pre-pandemic levels.
A spokesperson for UPS said: “We expect our busiest day to be December 14 following the surge of Black Friday and Cyber Monday online shopping.
“We are implementing extra weekend sorts in all our major European hubs to meet seasonal demand.”
CitySprint launched a recruitment campaign to boost drivers by 600 and Yodel is recruiting 4,000 drivers and facilities staff.
Roles at Yodel include employed and self-employed couriers, day and night parcel sorters, and team managers.
Employees who begin working with Yodel during the peak period can be on either temporary or permanent contracts, depending on the roles they choose.
Yodel has also increased its trailer fleet by 22% from 1,140 to 1,390, with 250 new trailers. It is also trialling solar panelled double decker trailers to increase capacity and reduce mileage across its network.
"Supply of rental vehicles is a challenge..."
A spokesperson for Yodel said: “We have a great planning team which allows us to engage with the supply chain early enough at the beginning of each year .
“While supply of rental vehicles is a challenge at the moment with the well documented shortages all over the UK, Yodel has some great suppliers on board who understand the
needs the business and supports us accordingly.”
While UPS wasn’t able to specifically share details on fleet growth size for the UK, it did say it has recruited 1,400 more seasonal workers across its sorting hubs and 327 drivers across Europe to assist with peak.
Another big challenge is responding with speed to fluctuating demand and this requires new team members at Yodel to be onboarded quickly.
The Yodel spokesperson said: “Our courier app has helped optimise this process.
“The app provides drivers with their route, allows them to upload photos to prove that they’ve delivered a parcel and also includes access to remote training materials.”
Yodel has on-boarded 3,583 new drivers so far this year and has delivered remote training to them via the driver app.
UPS said it works with its customers to make sure their volumes match its capacity to get packages to their destinations on time.
A spokesperson for UPS told Commercial Fleet: “We have also expanded our automated facilities globally, meaning that 92% of eligible packages will travel through automated facilities by the end of this year.”
Mark Footman, chief operations officer at CitySprint, said getting the festive-season supply chain right can be difficult.
He said: “We’re making sure we have the right team in place to provide a first-class service for our customers to help keep their operations moving during this year’s peak season.
“We’re also bolstering our fleet to support the ongoing demand we foresee in January 2023 and beyond.”