Scrap Saturday Deliveries Royal Mail request

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Royal Mail have announced they have requested the Government allow them to drop Saturday deliveries from the Universal Service Obligation and only deliver letters 5 days a week.

A sustainable future must also include urgent reform of the Universal Service. Government has now been approached to seek an early move to five day letter delivery, whilst we continue to improve parcel services.

 – Keith Williams, Non-Executive Chair, International Distributions Services

On the face of things, this makes massive sense enabling them to focus on Parcel delivery 7 days a week. Frankly, most people will be thinking that they might not get bills at the weekend and there are few letters other than Birthday cards which people want to receive these days. Spam mail (Royal Mail call it advertising) is not important to anyone other than the advertisers and if you’re worried you won’t get your birthday card delivered on your birthday… well you already have to post birthday cards early for birthdays that fall on a Sunday so lack of a Saturday delivery isn’t that big of a deal.

It is likely that having just opened up Special Delivery to 7 days a week, now delivering on Sundays, that this service would be maintained for urgent letters.

What will matter however are the millions of ecommerce purchases that get sent via letter or large letter post. Royal Mail can’t deliver them on time at the moment missed their 1st Class target and only delivered 72.6% of 1st Class mail on time against a target of 93% in the past quarter. They calculate that with industrial action they’d have only missed the 93% target by 7.9% which is still pretty poor.

If Royal Mail don’t deliver on Saturdays, and don’t meet their delivery targets anyway, ecommerce purchases shipped via letter or large letter post will become abominably slow. Bearing in mind that 2nd Class aims to delivery within 2-3 working days, and only 91.3% was delivered on time (compared to 98% target), that means almost 9% of 2nd Class post took four or more days to arrive – Effectively this would be a buy this week have delivered next week service once Saturday deliveries are discontinued.

If Royal Mail are to dump Saturday letter deliveries, they need to sort out their service and at least deliver letters on time according to their service promise. Parcels will no longer be an issue as they’ll have a Postie in a van (or a third party contractor in a van if Royal Mail get their way) who will run round on Saturdays and Sundays to deliver parcels.

Even with post delivered on time, scrapping Saturday deliveries would leave ecommerce retailers who rely on large letters or letters to deliver their sales economically in a much worse position. There simply aren’t any viable alternatives to Royal Mail for light weight, small, low cost items. Consumers will simply have to readjust their expectations and wait longer for their purchases with retailers having to readjust those expectations in advance.

5 Responses

  1. Agree with not scrapping Saturday deliveries as this would delay online purchases below parcel size.

    The regulator is not doing their job here. Privatisation was predicated on the assumption that the letters business is to be susidised by the parcels business and that includes the universal service commitment.

    This was what was signed up to at privatisation and is part of the deal, so the regulator must stamp on this and prevent any dilution of the universal service remit or any illegal attempt to split the parcels and letters businesses.

    RM needs to sort out its act and stop trying to pull the wool to make a fast buck for shareholders.

  2. If saturday deliveries were scrapped, when would they deliver all those RM48 large letters that they collect on Mondays, but fail to deliver on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday?

  3. We are surely witnessing the nadir of a once great national service. Things are bad enough at the moment for traders who rely on RM and in particular large letter post for small items. With no Saturday letter deliveries we know that any LL posted on a Friday – and probably Thursday – won’t arrive until Monday. Not good.

  4. Absolute farce from Royal Mail demanding to lower again customer service. If they don’t deliver Saturdays this will mean that letters posted on Friday night will not move until Monday morning as delivery deliveries suspended on Saturday’s will lead to no collections either (has anyone thought about this opt out?)
    Make Royal Mail deliver all day Saturday’s and not finish at 1 O Clock and improve their delivery targets! After all if no mail moves on Saturdays why bother to open the Post Office Counters on that day either…..It will just lead to more custom going to the cheap couriers operating out of convenience shops open at weekends and another downward spiral for The Royal Mail.


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