eBay and Post Office join Royal Mail in call for early online Christmas shopping as Company puts a parcels-led twist on its 139 year old “Post Early for Christmas” campaign
Royal Mail is morphing its 139 year-old Post Early For Christmas campaign into a social-media led campaign designed to encourage early online Christmas shopping. The move is designed to help the company manage growing volumes of parcels that are expected to peak over the festive season.
“Shop Early, Send Early for Christmas” is an evolution of the traditional “Post Early for Christmas” campaign that has been promoted by Royal Mail during the busy Christmas period for well over a century.
eBay and Post Office have both given their backing to the campaign which is designed to help Royal Mail manage large volumes of parcels over the festive season.
The Post Early for Christmas campaign was first launched in 1881 before developing into a sophisticated poster-led campaign in 1934 geared towards helping Royal Mail manage increased volumes of Christmas cards. By encouraging customers to post early, the Company sought to spread the mail more evenly throughout the festive period. This in turn helped ensure everyone received their mail in time for the big day.
Fast forward to 2020, and the company is reworking its traditional campaign to match growing enthusiasm for online shopping – resulting in increased volumes of parcels. Shop Early, Send Early For Christmas messaging will be launched across social media in order to target online shoppers as they go about ordering gifts for Christmas. It will also feature in a postmark campaign, with the slogan gracing all stamped mail delivered over the festive period.
The campaign will encourage customers to get ahead of the traditional Christmas rush – both by shopping online early, and by sending parcels and letters to family and friends early. Christmas is typically the busiest time of the year for parcel deliveries, but this Christmas is expected to outstrip prior years’ festive peaks. Royal Mail reported a 34% year-on-year increase in parcel volumes between April and August.
The move reflects the ongoing shift towards parcels from letters as the UK experiences a boom in online shopping. The move towards online shopping has been further accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic and its associated restrictions.
Christmas this year follows a busy year for Royal Mail, with postmen and women continuing to work tirelessly to keep communities connected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In the wake of more planned restrictions across the UK, the company is doing as much as it can to ensure it is prepared for a busier Christmas than usual.
Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail, said: “Since 1881 we have asked our customers to Post Early for Christmas so that we can better manage higher volumes of seasonal mail. This year we recognise that many people won’t be able to visit friends and family as they usually would, so we are preparing to play an even more important role in delivering our customers’ presents and cards for Christmas. With the ongoing shift towards online shopping, we would also recommend our customers both Shop Early and Send Early for Christmas this year”
Murray Lambell, General Manager of eBay UK said: “Despite the obvious challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and associated restrictions in place in the run up to Christmas, we’re gearing to help our customers choose the perfect gifts in a safe and convenient way. Reassuringly we’re already seeing a different, earlier Christmas shopping pattern, and we would echo Royal Mail’s request to shop earlier online than usual this year, in order to ensure that deliveries are spread over an extended time-period. All of us here at eBay UK, and our army of 300,000 small and medium sized business sellers, are working hard to ensure that all our customers enjoy a happy and relaxing Christmas.”
Mark Siviter Managing Director of Mails & Retail at Post Office said: “At Post Office we anticipate a 50% increase in customer sessions during the festive peak, well over 15 million sessions a week. Therefore we are asking customers to post early, before you visit, check opening hours through our online branch finder tool, many of our branches open outside normal working hours as well as weekends. If you need help, speak to our postage experts for guidance to ensure your parcels have the correct postage to arrive safely and on time.”
Preparing to deliver Christmas
More than 500 years old, Royal Mail has always played a central role in delivering Christmas to families across the UK and around the world, and this year will be no different. The company commences preparations for Christmas up to a year in advance.
Royal Mail has recently announced its annual Christmas recruitment campaign and will hire around 33,000 temporary workers to help 115,000 permanent postmen and women sort the Christmas post.
Temporary staff, many of whom return year after year, will help sort parcels, card and letters at one of over 14,000 sites across the UK. This year they will also be supporting Royal Mail’s dedicated COVID-19 testing kit collection team.
The Company has also acquired additional temporary sort centres, with two located in Northampton and Milton Keynes. These will join a nationwide network of sites dedicated to sorting parcels to help meet Christmas demand.
Temporary parcel sort centres have been used for around 10 years to process a significant proportion of seasonal parcels and help manage volumes. This year the company has decided to expand its existing portfolio of seasonal sites in order to help manage the accelerated growth in parcel volumes.
Royal Mail is also making it easier than ever to send and receive items this Christmas. New in-flight delivery options make it more convenient for customers to manage when and how they receive parcels at home. And the new Parcel Collect service means postmen and women can now also collect parcels from customers’ doorsteps while delivering items on their daily round.
Posting Early for 139 years
The postal service first encouraged the public to “post early” in 1881. The early posting of Christmas cards eased the build-up and pressure on postal staff over the busiest period of the year. From the 1890s onwards, notices advising early posting could be seen affixed to letter boxes.
Advising the public to post early was further developed with a publicity poster campaign that was first introduced in 1933, by the newly established GPO Public Relations Department and its director Sir Stephen Tallents. These now iconic posters have become world renowned in the advertising industry, and were illustrated by some of the period’s most distinguished graphic designers.
In 2016 Royal Mail commissioned Midlands-based artist Charles Avalon, who specialises in Art-Deco illustration, to create a new Post Early poster. The new poster paid tribute to the campaign’s long design heritage, evoking the spirit of the styles used in the 1930s and 40s.
The drive to encourage the public to post early has since become the longest running campaign by Royal Mail. In recent years, the campaign has focused on Royal Mail’s social media and digital channels. The publication of the latest recommended Christmas posting dates is part of that process. It has also been maintained in a postmark campaign, with the slogan gracing all stamped mail delivered over the festive period.
An online gallery of Post Early posters, dating back to 1934, can be viewed at the following link: http://gallery.royalmailgroup.com/heritage-posters
Latest Recommended Posting Dates for Christmas
The UK latest recommended posting dates for Christmas 2020 are as follows:
- Friday 18 December for 2nd Class Mail
- Monday 21 December for 1st Class Mail
- Wednesday 23 December for Special Delivery
Further information is available at www.royalmail.com/greetings