By Marcus Leach

Royal Mail has announced it is gearing up for the busy Christmas period by investing an additional £15 million in its operation to handle the festive mailbag of around two billion items.

Royal Mail is setting up nine dedicated packet hubs around the UK. The hubs will be used to sort a significant proportion of the packets Royal Mail handles before they are delivered to the door by postmen and women.

Royal Mail is also investing in an additional 73,000 containers and more than one million trays used for transporting the post.

The £15 million investment is in addition to the substantial financial commitment Royal Mail normally makes on additional resources to handle the festive mailbag of around two billion items. On the busiest days in the run up to Christmas, Royal Mail expects to handle up to 130 million items — around double the normal average daily mailbag of 62 million items.

The development of a dedicated nationwide network to handle packets is a major investment by Royal Mail. Separating a significant proportion of the packets from the normal sorting network of 59 mail centres and ten regional distribution centres, will:

• Enable Royal Mail to handle the increased volumes of packets as a result of the rise in online shopping as effectively as possible
• Provide Royal Mail with increased capacity and flexibility in the event of a repeat of the severe weather conditions that impacted all essential services in the lead up to last Christmas
• Reduce the potential for congestion in mail centres and regional distribution centres that sort cards and letters at the busiest times and during severe weather conditions

The packet hubs will open in the coming weeks in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Swansea, Bristol, Peterborough, Manchester, Swindon, Nuneaton and Watford.

“Christmas is the busiest time of year for Royal Mail and our customers. On peak days we handle around 130 million items — around double our normal average daily mailbag of 62 million items. Royal Mail has invested an additional £15 million to increase our scale and improve our flexibility during this important time of year for our customers," Mark Higson, Royal Mail’s Managing Director of Operations and Modernisation, said.

“As we do every year, we encourage people to post early and order presents early to help us spread the workload of handling around two billion items in the run up to Christmas.”

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