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Online retail delivery order volumes up but on-time delivery hampered by snow for second month

Online retail delivery order volumes were up +9.6% year-on-year in March, but on-time delivery was hampered by the heavy snowfall experienced across the UK in the first week of March, according to the latest figures from the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index.

It meant that on-time delivery performance for March 2018 was a full 7 percentage points below the rate recorded in March 2017. However except for January 2018 on-time delivery has been below 90% since July 2017, with the rolling weighted average over the past 12 months standing at 88%.

IMRG believes the greater use of next day delivery is most likely driving the trend – although even that may be reaching a plateau now, it says. It claims the percentage of orders using next-day services has grown in March for the past five years. However, although this March next-day still accounted for a higher share of orders than economy it was by a lower share than in the same month last year.

“Despite all the issues being experienced on the high street, growth for online retail order volumes in 2018 has experienced a solid start to the year,” said Andrew Starkey, head of e-logistics at IMRG.

Starkey warned that an early Easter this year could impact results month. “Easter was early this year – falling in March, while it was in April in 2017 – so it may be that next month’s results record a bit of a slowdown but, if so, that would likely be a blip. The evidence is that retailers are increasing the rate at which they evolve their operations to cater for an ever-more demanding customer – such as in the opening of highly automated warehouses by some large retailers, including Shop Direct and Sports Direct. We can probably expect to hear more such announcements over the next 12 months.”

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