Online retailers and delivery firms are likely to face a "Mount Everest of Christmas peaks" this year, according to one courier.

With Covid-19 restrictions ongoing, ParcelHero says online retailers and couriers have already experienced record peak volumes and it is warning that the run-up to Christmas could be 50% busier than last year.

The company is urging retailers to work closely with their delivery partners to prevent driver shortages and strained supply chains that will cause chaos.

ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks MILT, says the double-whammy of families, separated by Covid restrictions, mailing their gifts, plus a shortage of skilled drivers created by Brexit, could prove a mountain too high to climb. He is urging retailers and couriers to start escalating their Christmas planning immediately to conquer the "Mount Everest of Christmas peaks".

David said: ‘The huge demand for deliveries is being compounded by the reported loss of a quarter of a million EU nationals from the UK economy this year, which will lead to a 30% shortfall in drivers and warehouse workers.

"Even though many retailers and delivery companies are attempting to hire thousands more staff in preparation for this year’s Christmas peak, this might be difficult to do in practice. Retailers may need to radically shake up their Christmas distribution plans."

He added: "Despite a partial pick-up of High Street store sales in recent months, online sales are still over 50% higher compared to a year ago. ParcelHero had its busiest day ever just last week and online pure-play Ocado has overtaken Tesco to become the UK’s most valuable retailer. This year’s home delivery growth is unprecedented for both parcels and groceries.

"Christmas success is always balanced on a knife edge. As a dreadful warning, it only took an increase in the popularity of online Black Friday shopping in 2014 to cause Christmas chaos across the retail and delivery industry. Nearly one in three (31%) online shoppers experienced problems with their orders that Christmas, 49% suffered from missed deliveries due to overstretched companies’ erratic delivery patterns, while 45% experienced late deliveries or never received their goods."