// Royal Mail warns of severe delays in the run-up to Christmas, citing mass staff sicknesses
// The company is grappling with huge volumes of parcels passing through its 1,200 delivery offices
Royal Mail has reportedly warned of severe delays in the run-up to Christmas, with widespread problems due to sickness and high demand.
According to The Mail on Sunday, analysis showed the number of delivery offices affected by problems more than doubled in a week, reaching an all-time high of 32 offices last Wednesday.
Last week, some 21 offices were still experiencing difficulties, including Bristol South, Farnborough in Hampshire and Warrington. Customers have complained of going weeks without receiving a delivery.
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The business is currently grappling with the massive volume of parcels passing through its 1,200 delivery offices, triggered by the move to more online Christmas shopping, accelerated by the pandemic and the spreading Omicron variant.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Deliveries are operating as normal across most of the country. We aim to deliver to all addresses we have mail for, six days a week. In a small number of local offices this may temporarily not be possible due to local issues such as COVID-related self-isolation, high levels of sick absence, resourcing, or other local factors.”
Last month, Royal Mail chief executive Simon Thompson told the PA news agency: “If you have a look at posting dates for Christmas this year, we haven’t changed them. So it’s our expectation that we’ll be fine. Our team stood up to the challenge through the pandemic and I see no reason why they won’t do the same again.”
His comments came as the company revealed it will hand out £400 million to shareholders following a bumper period for the company during the Covid-19 crisis, as online deliveries surged.
The company said £200 million will be spent on a buyback of shares and £200 million will be given as a special dividend.