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Nearly one in five first-class letters does not arrive on time

By Sam Hall
Post Office - Kirsty O'Connor/PA
Post Office - Kirsty O'Connor/PA

Nearly one in five letters and parcels posted with a first class stamp failed to be delivered the next day, Royal Mail has admitted as it blamed Covid-enforced absences for the delays.

According to Royal Mail's annual quality of service report, just 81.8 per cent of priority mail arrived at its intended address the next working day between March 29, 2021 and March 27 this year.

Although there was an improvement on the previous year when 74.7 per cent of post was delivered on time, the figure falls short of the 93 per cent target set for delivery of first class mail.

Royal Mail chiefs blamed the "exceptional ongoing effects" of the pandemic for its performance.

It added that it was difficult to maintain "usual standards of service" because Covid had a "more prolonged impact on our business than expected, with high levels of absence during the 'pingdemic' and the rise of omicron".

Absence levels at the height of omicron were double what Royal Mail would expect to see at that time of year, reaching a peak of over 15,000 employees off sick or self-isolating in January 2022.

'Radically different traffic mix with more parcels and fewer letters'

The postal service added that "a radically different traffic mix with more parcels and fewer letters" had made deliveries more challenging.

Royal Mail admitted that its "performance needs to improve" and cited recent results showing progress, with more than 86 per cent of first class mail delivered by the next working day in the last week of April.

It added that it had taken immediate steps in response to omicron to restore a comprehensive service, including "recruiting additional temporary staff and establishing a specialised dedicated delivery task force to provide targeted support to the most impacted offices".

Before the pandemic, Royal Mail delivered 92.6 per cent of first class mail within one working day and was previously fined £1.5 million by Ofcom for failing to meet its first class delivery target of 93 per cent by the next working day.

Grant McPherson, the Royal Mail's chief operating officer, said: "We’re sorry to any customers who were impacted by service levels during this time.

"We know that we need to improve our performance and some of the steps we have taken to address the issues are bearing fruit. Our ongoing transformation programme is introducing new ways of working, and a new delivery model will optimise our network for parcels."

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Dive Deeper:
One in five first-class letters and parcels fails to arrive next working day
Just weeks after double-digit price rise, Royal Mail says services hit by continuing effects of Covid and staff absences
Royal Mail admits one in five first class letters no longer arrive the next day
The delivery giant aims to deliver the majority of first class letters the following day including Saturdays - and traditionally…
Royal Mail admits one in five first class letters don't arrive the next day
If your first class post hasn't arrived the next day, here's why...
Royal Mail to deploy drones to help deliver mail in Scotland's most remote communities
The delivery firm is seeking to create more than 50 new postal drone routes in a bid to reduce carbon…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Royal Mail announces plan to deliver post with 500 drones and reveals first routes
The service will reach all corners of the country, the company hopes
Royal Mail plans to deliver post using 500 drones as first routes announced
The company has said it is aiming to use up to 200 drones over the next three years, increasing to…
Get all your news in one place