Postal service Bpost will no longer deliver all packages to the home address of customers, because of the huge growth in traffic under coronavirus regulations.
Following yesterday’s news that contracted business clients of Bpost will be charged €1 extra for handling packages, the service has now said it will be unable to deliver all packages to the addressee at home, forcing them instead to pick up the package at one of the 2,300 pick-up points across the country.
During the week gone by, on Tuesday and Wednesday, Bpost handled more than 520,000 packages a day, and traffic is expected to go above 600,000 a day in the week between Black Friday and Sinterklaas – from 27 November to 4 December.
The Covid-19 epidemic is behind the move. Since non-essential retail is closed for now, and Sinterklaas and Christmas are approaching, more and more people are turning to online for purchases. And even if the shops manage to open before the festive season, many people will prefer to shop from home rather than face crowded shopping streets.
And it’s not all Amazon and Bol.com. The crisis has also spurred many local businesses to develop an online presence during lockdown, and while many will be operating a kerbside pick-up service, others will be using postal deliveries.
The government has this week suggested to the major online retailers that Black Friday – an American tradition involving huge low-price sales the day after Thanksgiving, that has been imported to Europe in recent years – might exceptionally be rescheduled this year.
That will not happen, it now emerges, as the retail sector, already in crisis because of the lockdown, refused to let go of the one lifebelt available to them.
Bpost stresses that the majority of customers will still have their packages delivered at home, with only 5% obliged to pick them up from the post office or nearest pick-up point. To assist with the traffic, Bpost has reached an agreement with Decathlon stores to act as a pick-up point for parcels, although most tend not to be in neighbourhoods.
The Bpost website also offers individual customers the possibility of choosing a pick-up point closer to home.
The choice of whether to deliver packages or have them picked up, Bpost said, will depend on the traffic in the area concerned. Customers whose packages cannot be delivered will receive a message in their mailbox telling them where to pick them up.