How COVID-19 Affected E-Commerce Deliveries in the UK

Oct 21, 2020

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In our previous study, we examined how peak season affected both the UK and Germany in 2019. This week, we return to our COVID-19 analysis on how the pandemic has affected countries all around the world. 

On March 23 this year, the UK administration announced that it was going into lockdown. They only allowed the public to leave their homes for very limited reasons. Shops selling non-essential goods had to close, and they banned gatherings of more than two people in public.

For this study, we analyzed the trends of two e-commerce logistics variables: transit time to first delivery attempt and the success rate of said delivery attempt for domestic parcels over the last 9 months. 

Here’s what we found:

Transit time to first attempt increased by 50% from 1.8 days to 2.7 days (March to April 2020)

This corresponds with the time when the UK announced it was going into lockdown. With the country in lockdown and shops selling non-essentials closed, consumers took to online shopping. This created a  sudden surge in e-commerce demand and flooded the logistics sector.

One of the UK’s frequently-used postal companies, Royal Mail, has found these circumstances challenging. Amidst the spike in e-commerce deliveries, the company had to implement social distancing measures throughout its logistics operations to ensure that its staff stayed safe; staggering shifts and reducing manpower.

Transit time to the first attempt began to normalize from July at 1.9 days

From June, lockdown measures in the UK had eased and non-essential retailers could resume business operations

Based on our findings, logistics carriers in the UK appear to have gotten better at managing capacity, with a marked improvement in transit time to first attempt delivery from July at 1.9 days. This is significantly shorter than the average of 2.7 days transit time recorded in April.

The success rate for first attempt deliveries averaged 94.7% from April to June

Compared to the average success rate of 85% in 2019, this is a significant improvement. With more people in the UK staying at home during the lockdown, this would have reduced the probability of missed parcel deliveries.

Nevertheless, we do see delivery success rates continue to hover above 90% even in the months of August and September. 

With the country going through a second wave of cases, we shall see what happens next to these delivery variables, especially with the upcoming peak season for retailers.

We also did a similar study in Australia, check out our analysis on the effects of COVID-19 in Australia here.

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