Almost 15 million people were left waiting for post over the Christmas period, including 2.5 million who missed important documents, health appointments, or were unable to pay a fine or bills, Citizens Advice research suggests.
More than half of those left waiting (54%) reported going at least a week without letters, while 3% said they could not pay a bill, 8% said they missed an important document, and 7% said they missed a health appointment, rising to 16% of those on an NHS waiting list.
People across London (35%), the South East (32%) and the North West (31%) were most likely to experience a delay in receiving post, the survey of 4,165 UK adults indicates.
Further analysis by the charity suggests the situation failed to sufficiently improve in January, with 23% of those polled reporting disruption to their mail.
Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty said: “A staggering 2.5 million of us missed important documents, health appointments, or were unable to pay a fine or bills due to post delays over Christmas.
“We understand the strain the pandemic has placed on Royal Mail. But after two years of disruption, Royal Mail cannot let poor service become the new normal."
A Royal Mail spokesman said: “The rise of Omicron had a particular impact during Christmas and January, with approximately 15,000 staff members off work due to sickness and self-isolation at one stage.
“We apologise for any delays that our customers may have experienced in the local areas affected. We are working hard to equalise performance and improve service in those areas, including spending over £340 million on overtime, additional temporary staff and sick pay, as well as targeted support.
“Our postmen and women are continuing to work incredibly hard, as they have done throughout the pandemic, and we are thankful for all of their efforts and determination.”