For some time now, Australia Post has been warning Aussies that COVID-19 has had a substantial impact on the production line that gets your mail to your door on time.
Between extended lockdowns leading to spikes in online orders, to the point of an “unprecedented surge” in deliveries; “temporary facility closures” connected to staff self-isolation, and reduced numbers of flights entering into Australia impacting freight capacity, the hurdles getting in the way of Australia Post’s delivery services are significant.
They also don’t appear to be easing up anytime soon.
As our pals at Business Insider report, the wave of parcels is expected to grow throughout November and December.
Flavio Macau, a senior lecturer at Edith Cowan University’s School of Business and Law and a board member of the Australasian Supply Chain Institute told the outlet:
“We may need some other pause moments in the future, because this situation has not stabilised as of yet.”
Most recently, the postage system has been hit once again with the announcement of a 24-hour strike, from midnight Wednesday, September 22 until midnight Thursday, September 23, by thousands of delivery drivers.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) confirmed that 2,000 StarTrack workers have walked off the job due to complaints regarding limited job security and outsourcing. News.com.au reports that the TWU stated workers have said they “want the same pay and conditions for labour-hire as employees, caps on the use of outside hire, and commitments to allocate work to employees before contracting out”.
StarTrack released a statement in response to the action that reads:
“StarTrack are disappointed that the TWU are taking this action during a time when the crucial supply of essential goods has never been more important, particularly given we have offered a market-leading guaranteed pay rise, reflecting the hard work of our workforce.
“StarTrack will continue to advocate for and support our staff and our communities during this difficult and uncertain time.”
The action will impact StarTrack Express, StarTrack Premium and 3PL and online shoppers are being told to expect additional delays.
Where is Australia Post seeing the most delays, generally?
On the Australia Post website, it states that there are a few elements that will make it more likely your mail will see delivery delays.
Those would be:
- Where you’re based. Some areas are more heavily affected than others (NSW, Victoria and the ACT are being impacted most at the moment).
- What you’re receiving. Wine deliveries, for example, have seen more substantial delays because they require manual processing.
Australia Post’s three-day pause on parcel collection from e-commerce retailers across NSW, Victoria and the ACT ended on Tuesday, September 7. The halt on pick-ups was intended to help tackle delivery volumes at a “safe and manageable level,” but warnings of delivery delays remain.
A full list of all the latest announcements in this space can be found here.
External to Australia Post, eBay shared USPS’ announcement on Friday, September 3, stating it would temporarily suspend some international services to Australia as a result of limited transportation options.
It listed the following services as impacted:
- First-Class Package International Service (FCPIS)
- Commercial ePacket (CeP)
- International Priority Airmail (IPA) Packets
- International Surface Air Lift (ISAL) Packets
Any packages that have not been processed by the International Service Center (ISC) at this point would be labelled as “Return to Sender,” the service stated.
eBay haș highlighted, however, that its own “eBay international standard delivery and GSP are not affected; both services will continue to provide timely delivery to Australia”.
What does this mean for Christmas?
The situation is still evolving as we travel through this most recent COVID-19 outbreak and the impacts of that, but it’s worth noting that the ABC reports Australia Post has said it delivered more parcels in August than it did throughout the Christmas period in 2020.
According to the outlet, AusPost estimates it will need to deliver as many as 500,000 parcels every weekend until Christmas.
With that considered, and the problems current pressures on the system pose, it is worth planning your holiday shopping well in advance this year.
Some international shipping cut-off dates for Christmas have already passed (in which case Australia Post suggests using International Standard or International Express mail options). Others are fast approaching. The shipping cut-off date for the United States and the UK, as an example, is September 24, 2021.
You can see the full list of dates for Christmas mail here.
When it comes to general expected delivery dates, it’s probably best to take those with a grain of salt, but you can find outlines for those on the Australia Post website here.
Presently, parcel delivery times are listed as between five and 10 business days for NSW, five and eight business days for Victoria, and between two and six business days for the ACT.
This article has been updated with news of StarTrack related strikes.