How does snow impact deliveries?

As children, snowfall presented a world of opportunity. Not only was a fresh covering great fun to stomp through or throw at your mates, it also brought with it a day or two off school. What's not to love?

Unfortunately in the grown up world, it's not just in the media that snow causes chaos. Last year saw a surprisingly mild winter with little or no snowfall, although the winter storms which brought high winds and floods managed to more than make up for an otherwise lack of disruption. However in previous years (particularly the winters of 2010/11 and 2012/13) huge levels of snow found children jumping with joy but delivery companies or online retailers sinking their heads in their hands in despair.

Coping strategies

It's a well known fact among Brits that we do not deal with snow very well compared to, for example the Scandinavian countries. This is despite the fact that Met Office calculations show the UK gets an average number of 16.5 days of snow a year.

Frosty conditions in the UK throw its population into panic mode, grounding flights, halting deliveries and closing businesses. In the cold snap of January 2013 more than 200 flights at Heathrow were cancelled, meaning there were international packages which were late getting to their destinations. Meanwhile on the roads, travel was treacherous with many being closed after having been deemed impassable. In 2010 the Royal Mail was forced to suspend its Guaranteed Next Day delivery service and other parcel companies saw their packages back up. With as many as three million parcels awaiting delivery, the media panicked as final Christmas delivery dates loomed.

The cold snap in early 2011 is estimated to have cost the economy as much as £690 million, according to UK-based insurer RSA. This figure came about as a result of employees struggling to get into the office, delivery drivers not being able to reach their destinations and shopping centres suffering from an absence of punters.

Warm and cosy online shopping

Despite this, sometimes the cold weather can be a good thing for online retail companies. With shops closed and road conditions icy, many consumers turn to internet shopping rather than stepping outside. After the cold snap of Christmas 2010, online retailers saw record sales over Christmas and New Year, whilst the number of people shopping in retail stores other than food outlets was down 8.8 per cent on the previous year, according to market research company Synovate. Last Christmas, non-food sales accounted for nearly 20 per cent of spending in December and it's thought that faster delivery times contributed alongside the poor weather conditions to encourage people to stay and shop at home.

This year's forecast is yet to be confirmed by the Met Office, although it has denied claims by some media that this winter will see record breaking cold temperatures, so getting stocked up with the online purchases well in advance might be the best option.

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Please note if you do not select the “signature required” delivery option, UKMail will not be liable should your items be subsequently lost or damaged after the delivery (see clause 11.7 of the Terms & Conditions). *We define a “Parcel” as a package with dimensions up to 80cm x 80cm x 80cm and a weight of up to 25kg.

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