E-commerce retailers in Melbourne are once again preparing for a pause in pickups from Australia Post, as the delivery network tries to manage unprecedented high levels of parcel deliveries with a reduced workforce.
Australia Post confirmed on Tuesday it will temporarily pause pickups for Melbourne-based e-commerce retailers for five days, from 12.01am on Friday, October 1, to 12.01 am on Wednesday, October 6.
The pause applies to pickups, collections and business lodgements for standard Parcel Post and eParcel services in the Greater Melbourne metropolitan area.
Australia Post has confirmed to SmartCompany that the pause will not affect pickups in regional areas, including Geelong, despite some small businesses informing their customers on social media on Tuesday evening that it will.
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The mail carrier would not comment, however, as to whether additional services pauses will be needed in the lead up to Christmas or if additional support will be offered to small business customers experiencing postage delays.
Express Post, Startrack Premium, Startrack Courier, Startrack Express and letters services will not be affected by the temporary pause in Melbourne, and post offices will remain open for businesses and customers collecting carded parcels or lodging parcels.
Australia Post will also continue to collect items lodged at Street Posting Boxes and collections in all other Australian states and territories will continue as normal.
Andrew O’Keefe, director of retailer Scent Australia Home, says the pause will be “tough” for the business and its customers.
Scent Australia Home specialises in oils, diffusers and room sprays.
“We pride ourselves on processing our orders as quickly as possible to ensure our customers receive their orders on time and safely,” O’Keefe tells SmartCompany.
“Unfortunately, this is out of our hands and we will have to scramble to come up with solutions. We can only ask our customers to understand and bear with us.”
This latest pause on pickups follows a three-day stoppage in Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory earlier this month, with Australia Post once again saying the service change is necessary as large numbers of its workers are affected by the current COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne.
Close to 200 Australia Post workers are in self-isolation and the reduced workforce is adding to the pressure on the delivery network as parcel volumes reach Christmas levels.
At the same time, industrial action at ports in Sydney and Melbourne and a recent strike by Startrack drivers has added further pressure across the country’s supply chains
“The temporary pause will help manage the record volumes being experienced in the network and importantly return them to a level that is safe and manageable for our people,” said Australia Post in a statement.
“The safety of our people is our highest priority, one which we will not compromise on.”
Australia Post apologised to customers for the inconvenience and said it is continuing to process parcels and deliver them on weekends to help manage the high volumes.
E-commerce sales are expected to make up almost half of the predicted $11 billion that will be spent by Australians this Christmas season, as ongoing lockdowns continue to drive greater e-commerce spending across the board.
Australia Post chief executive Paul Graham told the Australian Financial Review that the delivery network still plans to hire between 4000 and 5000 people before Christmas to help manage the demand, however this has proved challenging as “the labour market is very tight”.