Royal Mail to hire 33,000 temps to tackle Christmas online shopping rush

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
A Royal Mail employee sorts packages at the Royal Mail Mount Pleasant Sorting Office in London May 10, 2012. Britain's Royal Mail said plans to turn over half of its main London sorting office - Mount Pleasant - into a prime residential hub will be submitted next spring, as the group tries to boost its value ahead of a 2014 privatisation. Picture taken May 10, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS)
A Royal Mail employee sorts packages at the Royal Mail Mount Pleasant Sorting Office in London May 10, 2012. The company plans to increase temp hiring by 13,000, up from the usual 20,000 temps taken on during the Christmas period. Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Royal Mail (RMG.L) is set to hire 33,000 temporary workers for the next few months, as the company anticipates a rush of online orders for Christmas.

The boom in online shopping, partially driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, has meant demand for deliveries has increased by two-thirds, according to a Sunday Times report.

This is an increase of 13,000 on the usual 20,000 temps taken on during the Christmas period. The extra staff will be brought on in sorting offices, delivery vans and data centres.

The parcel boom is positive news for the British mail company, however it is still expected to incur big losses this year as numbers of letters being sent during the pandemic has slumped.

The news comes as data released on Friday showed that retail sales continued to rebound in Britain last month, smashing forecasts for growth.

The Office for National Statistics said that retail sales grew by 4.7% in September. Month-to-month sales grew by 1.5%.

Economists had expected annual sales growth of 3.7%, or 0.4% on a monthly basis.

Sales were driven by DIY and garden items, as well as a revival in supermarket food sales as the Eat Out to Help Out scheme came to an end.

The data confirmed the fifth consecutive month of growth for retail sales and marks an acceleration in growth. Sales grew by 2.3% in August, undershooting economists’ forecasts.

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Royal Mail has also made recent moves to launch a collection service. The company will start picking up parcels from people’s homes as online shopping continues to boom throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The firm is aiming to capitalise on the rising trend by charging 72p per parcel collection on top of standard postage costs.

Pre-paid return packages will be charged at 60p per item and it will collect up to five parcels per address, subject to limits of 61cm x 46cm x 46cm in volume and 20kg in weight.

The Parcel Collect service, which will rival the likes of DHL, Hermes and DPD, has been trialled in the west of England and will be available every day except Sunday.

Customers can only make bookings via Royal Mail’s “click and drop” online service, or by using the Royal Mail app, up to five days in advance until midnight on the day before collection.

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