Nearly 40% of disabled people experienced problems with parcel delivery in a single week, despite online shopping representing a lockdown lifeline, according to research from Citizens Advice in the UK. These problems include parcels left in inaccessible places, delivery drivers not leaving enough time for people to answer the door, and goods not being delivered on time or at all.
This number rises to just over half (51%) when looking at those in the shielded group, which includes those who are elderly, pregnant or have a long-term illness. Only 27% of people who don’t identify as disabled made complaints about deliveries in the same representative week.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, parcel deliveries have become a lifeline, with over half (51%) of people saying they are more reliant on parcels than before the coronavirus outbreak.
UK consumers are spending more online now than earlier in the year, with an average of £2.5bn (US$3.3bn) spent per week online in June, compared with £1.5bn (US$1.97bn) in February (a 62% increase).
Despite this increasing reliance on deliveries, Citizens Advice recorded a 119% increase in people seeking help on parcel issues on its website since lockdown began in March.
Last year, Citizens Advice called on delivery companies to improve parcel deliveries for disabled people. But with many disabled people belonging to the shielded group or relying even more on parcel deliveries due to Covid-19, ensuring that everyone has equal access to delivery services has become more important than ever.
Five UK parcel companies committed to finding a way to do this, including DHL Parcel, Hermes, DPD, Menzies, and Parcelly. They agreed to find a way to allow disabled people to state their accessibility needs and pass these onto the delivery driver, and also to publish detailed accessibility information online so disabled people can choose where they can pick up and drop off parcels.
Citizens Advice said that some delivery companies have yet to sign the pledge, meaning millions of deliveries remain inaccessible or don’t meet the needs of disabled consumers. The advice body is urging all companies to commit fully to its pledge to make sure they’re giving all consumers equal access to this essential service.
Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said, “It’s hard to imagine how many of us would get through lockdown without getting parcels delivered. Over half of us say we’re more reliant on parcel deliveries than ever before. They’ve allowed us to send and receive gifts from families or friends to retain a sense of normality, and even helped businesses to stay afloat.
“But for many disabled consumers or for those previously shielding, parcel delivery has become a lifeline for accessing essential items. We’d like to see all parcel companies sign our pledge so they can deliver for everyone, regardless of their accessibility needs.”