Late Christmas? Christmas cards could arrive 'as late as February' after 'prioritisation of parcels over letters'

23 December 2023, 12:51 | Updated: 23 December 2023, 12:52

Christmas cards could arrive as late as February.
Christmas cards could arrive as late as February. Picture: Getty

By Jenny Medlicott

Brits could be waiting for their Christmas cards until as late as February due to delays in delivery services.

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A new poll has found that nearly half of households have experienced Royal Mail delays in the last year.

Of the 4,600 people polled, 49 per cent reported experiencing delays and 48 per cent said the service had deteriorated.

The percentage of those who had experienced delays went up to 55 per cent in the North West.

Now industry sources have claimed that while parcels are likely to reach their destination by December 25, Christmas letters could be delivered as late as February, The Telegraph reports.

A spokesman for Royal Mail said the service “would like to reassure customers that the vast majority of mail continues to be delivered on time.

“According to our latest published data, three-quarters of first-class mail arrives the following day, and 96 per cent within three of posting”.

They added: “We are committed to improving our deliveries. We have implemented significant changes to drive forward improvements and bring our service to a standard our customers expect.

Read more: Supermarket opening times Christmas and New Year 2023: Lidl, Aldi, M&S and more

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Christmas cards could face delivery delays.
Christmas cards could face delivery delays. Picture: Getty

“This is an ongoing process as we work to transform our business to reflect the needs of modern postal users.”

The firm has faced criticism from members of the public for continued delays over the last year, as individuals have reported missing hospital appointments, operations, dental work and health assessments.

It comes after the Royal Mail faced scrutiny from MPs after an investigation from the Sunday Times alleged postal workers had been prioritising the delivery of parcels over less profitable letters.

Greg Smith, the Conservative MP for Buckingham, said: “I’ve had numerous complaints about postal services from constituents recently and talking to hardworking local posties, a significant issue is the prioritisation of parcels over letters.

“If the Royal Mail wants to charge so much for letters, the least they could do is prioritise delivering them!”

It comes after a poll found delays in the Royal Mail.
It comes after a poll found delays in the Royal Mail. Picture: Getty

The courier service also reported a major operating loss of £319 million last month and was fined £5.6 million by Ofcom for failing to meet delivery targets in 2023-2024.

An Ofcom spokesperson said: “Given consumer demand for postal services is changing substantially, Ofcom is gathering evidence on whether the universal service might need to evolve to more closely meet consumer needs.

“We will publish our analysis early next year.”

Dennis Reed, chairman of senior citizens group Silver Voices, said of the Royal Mail: “I am being increasingly told by members from large parts of the country that Royal Mail is in a complete meltdown at the moment.

“Many older people still rely on the postal system and the universal service that Royal Mail is obliged to provide - especially those who are unable to use emails and the internet in general.”