Retailers hit brakes on Black Friday as bpost struggles under flood of parcels
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Retailers hit brakes on Black Friday as bpost struggles under flood of parcels

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The arrival of major Black Friday sales amid the ongoing lockdown has forced leading retailers to downscale their promotions to avoid overwhelming Belgium’s postal service.

Popular Dutch retailer HEMA has to hit the breaks on their Black Friday deals and even considered shutting down their online shop in efforts to contain the e-shopping fever.

The cheap variety chain moved to downscale their promotions after four trucks brimming with online orders were rejected at a distribution centre last week by national mail carrier bpost.

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The postal service has been sounding the alarm since last week as it struggles to keep up with a flood of packages as the lockdown, compounded by the increasingly popular sales holiday, fuels an online shopping frenzy.

The surge in sales has even pushed online sales platform Bol.com to pull all of their Black Friday deals, keeping only its Sinterklaas, holiday and coronavirus promotions.

Bpost has referred to the situation as “exceptional,” noting that it has deployed thousands of extra staff to manage the volume of parcels, which has doubled in comparison to previous years.

“This is an exceptional situation with the end of the year and the lockdown,” bpost spokesperson Veerle Van Mierlo. said, adding that its employees were on overdrive to process an average of 580,000 parcels.

Last week, bpost announced that it would not be able to ensure home deliveries, asking customers to retrieve them at postal offices or delivery points instead.

Now, to ease the pressure on deliveries, several retailers have also begun offering in-store pickups to costumers.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times