Post Office customers will benefit from an extra one million opening hours this Christmas compared with 2015 as the UK company gears up for a busy season.
Online purchases and returns are expected to hit record figures, as retailers predict sales of £24.3bn (US$30.5bn), up 10% year-on-year. Through its modernization program, Post Office branches are now open for an extra 220,000 extra hours per week, up 50% on last year. It also has 4,000 branches open on Sundays to help meet the demand.
To help with the festive rush, hundreds of ‘Christmas makers’ will be working in branches over the coming weeks to assist customers with their preparations. In addition to the extra people on hand, the Post Office has introduced another 14 mobile Post Offices to its fleet this year, improving services to 80 rural communities across the UK.
Kevin Gilliland, group network and sales director, Post Office, said, “People in Post Offices around the UK are working hard to make this Christmas special for our customers. Many of our 7,000 modernized branches are open from early in the morning and late into the evening seven days a week, making it more convenient to visit. One million extra opening hours is just the start of our Christmas effort, over 55,000 people in our 11,600 branches are on hand to help the millions of customers who will visit in the run up to Christmas.
“We are also improving the service for our rural customers across the UK with a fleet of mobile Post Offices. Newborough is the latest community to benefit from this special service, with a fully-equipped van launching this week.”
Planned strike action update
The Post Office has reassured customers that it will be Christmas as usual in more than 97% of its network of 11,600 branches, despite the strike action called by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) over jobs, pensions and branch closures.
Kevin Gilliland, group network and sales director, Post Office, said, “We had agreed with the CWU that we would resume talks this week, so we are extremely disappointed that it prefers to call for strike action, particularly at such critical time of year. This can only cause concern for our customers and our people.
“We want to reassure customers that if strike action takes place next week at least 97% of our 11,600 branches will not be involved. Our priority will be to support them.
“We have robust contingencies that will ensure that all branches have the support and cash they need to operate. Experience tells us we can manage this effectively and minimize the impact on the communities who rely on our services.
“Any action will affect fewer than three hundred of our branches, and many of these will be open to maintain services for customers preparing for Christmas.
“It will be business as usual in almost all of our network, with over 50,000 Post Office people on hand to support customers as they make their preparations for Christmas.”
“Our progress is clear – over the last four years, we’ve dramatically reduced our losses and need for government subsidy, at the same time as modernizing nearly 7,000 post offices, adding more than 200,000 extra opening hours each week, and becoming the largest UK retailer open on a Sunday.”
(Report last updated on December 13, 2016)
December 9, 2016