Royal Mail is to trial a Sunday parcel delivery service for major retailers.
The move is aimed at tapping into the seven-days-a-week delivery market as more consumers expect Sunday deliveries as part of their online shopping.
In the last year, Royal Mail said it has processed unprecedented parcel volumes, delivering 496 million in the third quarter ending December 27.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
How will it work?
Delivery rivals such as DPD and Hermes already make Sunday deliveries for major retailers like Amazon, but Royal Mail does not.
Royal Mail said construction of its second, and largest, parcel hub is under way in Daventry in Northamptonshire; with the capacity to process more than one million parcels a day, the new hub will be the size of more than 10 football pitches.
It’s not the first time the postal service has trialled Sunday deliveries. In 2014 a similar trial was launched, but the decision was made not to roll out the service more fully following the experiment.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: "We were early adopters with the 2014 Sunday trial, which was limited to within the M25 area. Since that time, there has been a seismic change in consumers' online behaviours."
The spokesperson explained that shoppers are making online purchases more than ever, and so now the expectation of Sunday deliveries has grown.
“This trial is responding to those changing demands for even higher levels of convenience across the UK,” the spokesperson added.
Further details on the trial – such as where it may take place and whether members of the public can sign up – have not been revealed.
What has Royal Mail said?
Chief commercial officer Nick Landon said: “The UK already trusts us to deliver their purchases six days a week both quickly and conveniently. Now, for the first time, our posties will be doing the same thing seven days a week.
“The last year has reset so many customer expectations and the desire for even more convenient and even more frequent parcel deliveries has certainly been one of them.
“We always listen to our customers, both senders and recipients, and the ask here was clear: ‘we love what you do Monday to Saturday, so please do the same on a Sunday’.
“So that’s what we’re doing, as quickly as possible, so we can offer it to more and more customers across the course of this year.”
How has the Royal Mail fared from the pandemic?
News of the impending trial comes as Royal Mail reported a large surge in customers posting letters and using its services over the last month that bosses have said profits are likely to be higher than previously expected.
Royal Mail revenues are now set to be £900 million higher than last year – at around £8.6 billion – and, for the entire group, adjusted operating profits will hit around £700 million, compared with £325 million a year ago, it added.
The company said letter volumes, along with advertising, business and stamped mail, have all performed above expectations.
The postal service is undergoing a major restructuring as it hopes to reflect changing consumer habits in a world that has become more online than ever in the pandemic age.
In February, it was announced that the Royal Mail is trialling a new uniform for its postmen and postwomen, saying it was designed to better reflect the modern delivery round.
The new-look uniform, the first change in more than a decade, retains Royal Mail’s red colour, and includes walking trousers and shorts, tops, jackets, gilets and headwear.
The new look has been based on feedback from postmen and postwomen across the UK.
The designs will be trialled for 12 weeks on a range of delivery rounds across the UK, and if successful, they will replace the current uniforms.