Dire warning ahead of Christmas amid Australia Post delays

A leading logistics expert has warned that Australians might not have presents for their loved ones to open on Christmas Day unless they act quickly.

Australia Post announced this week that due to increased parcel volumes, Christmas 2021 will likely be their busiest yet, with parcel deliveries likely to surpass last year’s massive 52 million.

With customers noticing parcel delays, missed deliveries and prolonged parcel routes, Australia Post have made a number of announcements on new initiatives to ensure Christmas 2021 runs smoothly.

But, Curtin University’s Senior Lecturer in supply chain management and logistics, Elizabeth Jackson, told Yahoo News Australia that customers need to act quickly to avoid the worst case scenario.

“We all like to be able to open a present on Christmas Day but, unless we work with Australia Post to help it do its job, there is a risk that our logistics systems won’t be able to come to the party this year,” she warned.

Australia post red mail box close up of mail slot. Source: Getty Images
Australia Post has urged most Australian customers to have their post organised by December 13 for Parcel Post and December 20 for Express Post. Source: Getty Images

Dr Jackson was also asked if customers, from both metro and rural areas, can rely on Australia Post's Christmas deadlines.

"I would aim [to post items] earlier," she said.

Dr Jackson also recommended some gift alternatives that may also assist with timely delivery over this year’s festive season.

“Don’t forget about e-vouchers for products that can be downloaded (like music or e-books),” she said.

“Perhaps pay for someone’s gym membership or buy them some movie vouchers or tickets to a theatre show later in the year.

"A membership to a local museum or sporting club would be a good idea too.”

Dr Jackson has also urged people to be patient with local businesses as they struggle to navigate Australia Post’s enormous demand.

“If you’ve ordered a present from a local business that needs to be brought in from elsewhere, remember that all businesses are struggling to keep up with the orders and they are caught up in this global crisis which is far beyond their control,” she said.

Expert reveals reasons behind parcel backlogs

Dr Jackson revealed the reasons behind increased parcel demand, and the problems that Australia Post customers are raising with the postal giant.

“Our logistics and supply chain systems just aren’t designed for this quantity of freight that’s currently burdening them,” she said.

“Global systems have certainly been designed to include a little bit of wiggle room, but nothing like we’ve experienced in 2020 and 2021.”

Australia Post truck. Source: Getty Images
Border restrictions across Australia continue to cause delays for trucks carrying parcels. Source: Getty Images

Dr Jackson said that the main reason for delays is due to disruptions with global supply chains.

“The past couple of months have seen global businesses like Costco adapt their regular business practices and go so far as to consign entire ships to meet customer demands for Christmas stock,” she said.

“It’s scenarios like one of China’s major ports, Ningbo-Zhoushan, being closed because of a Covid case in August and the blockage of the Suez Canal by the Ever Given in March, that are making us feel the effects of supply chain disruptions.”

Dr Jackson said that although we are used to speedy deliveries, these issues are changing expectations.

“We’ve all become used to fast and efficient supply chains, whether that be an Uber Eats delivery or a new jet washer from China,” she said.

“Christmas is a notoriously frantic time for deliveries and the pressures our delivery systems are under to catch up on pandemic online shopping sprees won’t make Christmas 2021 any easier.”

Australia Post 'very responsible': Expert

Dr Jackson urged customers to "work with" Australia Post to ensure this Christmas is as pleasant as possible.

“It’s important to remember that it’s in Australia Post’s best interest to meet its customers’ expectations and deliver as promised,” she said.

“Australia Post has been very responsible in being so honest about current disruptions and doing everything it can to plan and advertise its Christmas parcel deadlines.”

A sorting facility overseas. Packages on conveyor belts. Source: Getty Images
Postage sorting facilities all over the world are being affected by Covid-19's supply chain issues. Source: Getty Images

Dr Jackson also commented that postage businesses like Australia Post are coping with the demand as well as they can.

“The last thing a freight provider wants at present is to receive complaints about lost or damaged parcels or indeed have to be sending parcels ‘round the traps' unnecessarily,” she said.

Australia Post has announced the hiring of over 4,000 Christmas casual team members this festive season, as well as the announcement of weekend deliveries and deliveries continuing through to Christmas Eve.

“The best thing we can all do is to have a bit of Christmas spirit and be kind,” Dr Jackson said.

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