Corona – controversy around parcel delivery

Parcel delivery times are widely stable, but online stores claim delayed pick-ups

Residential shipments spike as consumers spend most of their time in their homes due to government restrictions in the wake of the corona pandemic. Although supermarkets and other stores offering basic supplies have remained open despite the COVID-19 outbreak, people tend to order online more often than usual, as is reflected in a daily Statista study that featured in its news section two weeks ago.

Parcel delivery services are thus needed more than ever. Germany’s biggest delivery service DHL currently reports parcel volumes of up to 9 million a day – an amount which is usually only reached during the peak time of the year in the two weeks before Christmas. On an annual average, DHL reportedly delivers no more than 5.2 million parcel a days. While the surge in delivery volumes during holiday season can be planned and prepared for, the current corona crisis hit the company unexpectedly. According to the German parcel tracking service Parcello, however, deliverers were widely able to meet their usual delivery times in March.

Corona – controversy around parcel delivery

According to Parcello’s AI data, a parcel was en route for an average of 1.6 days until it arrived at the recipient’s address in March. A comparison to 2019 figures reveals no considerable difference in delivery times caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Parcello tracking service determined a delay of only about two hours in March. Possible reasons are diverse: Last-mile delivery is faster due to reduced traffic, less business deliveries free up capacities, more people are at home to accept parcels, etc. Parcello did record an Easter high – parcels needed just above 2 days to be delivered in calendar week 15. But the trend is pointing downward again.

However, there are also signs that suggest a completely different reality – deliverers seem to be struggling to handle parcel volumes. This week, DHL for the first time in its history delivered parcels on a Sunday in parts of Germany. As of April 20, DHL announces on its website that capacity bottlenecks are possible, which can result in delays in delivery times. The German online trade association BVOH has furthermore accused DHL of failing to pick up readily packed parcels at the logistic centers of online stores, which results in delivery delays of several days, according to BVOH. DHL admits that previously agreed additional pick-up journeys had to be canceled. When parcels are picked up later than planned, they arrive with a delay, even if the service partner is in time with the actual delivery. In the eyes of BVOH, this is an issue of bad logistics planning.

Other delivery partners widely used by German online stores, like Hermes and dpd, also report considerably higher parcel volumes in the wake of the corona pandemic. However, both state on their websites that there are currently no delays in their services.


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April 2020