London, 26 November 2014: The latest results from the IMRG Metapack Delivery Index (reporting on October 2014) confirms earlier predictions that 2014 will see a record number of parcels carried by the UK’s online logistics industry, culminating with the busiest ever Christmas.

According to the Delivery Index, UK retailers have been dispatching online orders at a rate that is 22% higher year-to-date than in 2013. This is almost double the growth rate at the same time last year.

Andrew Starkey, IMRG’s Head of e-Logistics commented: “All the indications are that more than 210 million online parcels will be sent out during November and December by UK retailers alone.”

It is estimated that around 85% of this Christmas volume will be delivered to UK addresses with the rest heading to shoppers on non-UK shores but this is partially compensated with ‘imports’. Parallel IMRG research reveals that UK consumers are increasingly attracted to non-UK websites and at this time of year they provide an additional source of new gift ideas at reasonable prices.

As Christmas approaches, the level of 2-way cross-border shopping will slow down as consumers look closer to home for their last-minute Christmas presents. There will be the usual flurry in Next Day deliveries at the expense of Economy services as shoppers race to get their final online orders home.

With this change in service demand and with UK retailers dispatching a quarter of the forecast 2014 annual volume of almost 900 million orders in the last two months of the year, the UK’s carriers have to be at the top of their game to cope with what is becoming the busiest Christmas ever.

The addition of ‘imports’, the rise in deliveries from small market place traders (eBay etc.) and the traditional sending of personal gifts means that the UK’s carriers have been preparing for this peak since last January.

Andrew Starkey confirms: “All carriers will have extensive contingency plans in operation and many are responding by moving to seven day working as standard. However as volumes rise, on time delivery is bound to come under pressure and the increase in alternative delivery solutions such as In Store and Third Party Click and Collect will provide additional capacity and contingency.”

Angela O’Connell, Marketing and Strategy Director, Metapack said: “UK retailers and carriers have been preparing for Peak all year, learning lessons from 2013 and investing in a whole raft of new alternative services that offer greater delivery convenience and choice to consumers. So we’re hopeful that this year’s surge will see retailers also delivering on promises of enhanced customer experience when orders are made to the home, workplace or a click and collect location.”