Coronavirus crisis sparks peak in parcel delivery

Thanks to the coronavirus crisis, parcel delivery is experiencing an unprecedented peak in demand. The largest players on the Dutch market, PostNL and DHL, have already recruited thousands of extra workers to ensure they can continue to deliver all parcels on time. DHL is also building two additional sorting centres in the short term.

Forced to stay at home as much as possible during the coronavirus lockdown, a large number of Dutch consumers are doing their shopping online instead. As a result, PostNL and DHL, which together account for approximately 90% of the country’s parcel delivery market, are extremely busy. For example, market leader PostNL now has 700 extra people working on sorting and delivering parcels. Many of the extra workers come from sectors such as the hospitality industry and taxi driving, reports the Dutch financial newspaper FD.

Last year the company delivered an average of 900,000 parcels a day in the Netherlands, but that figure has now increased significantly. The capacity has been extended by 40% since the start of the crisis and the company now has 4,000 couriers out on the road daily. “We didn’t expect this,” says Liesbeth Kaashoek, Director of PostNL’s Parcels and Logistics Division, in the FD. “And we’re still scaling up. Tuesday has always been a very busy day, but now it’s as if it’s Tuesday every day. In fact, on Sundays we’re now operating four extra sorting centres.”

Belgium gaining ground

PostNL is experiencing even more of a business boom in Belgium, the company’s second domestic market. Unlike in the Netherlands, almost all physical stores are closed in Belgium, which means that people have little choice but to buy online. Although Belgium has a weaker tradition of online shopping, it is now rapidly gaining ground. Popular items in both countries are mainly medicines, healthcare products, hand gels, headphones/wireless earphones and gifts for special occasions such as birthdays or newborn babies.

PostNL is fortunate to have opened three additional sorting centres just last year, which means the current capacity is sufficient. The construction of an additional sorting centre was also already planned for next year, as well as a sorting centre especially for small parcels. “We will soon be able to process parcels of up to ten litres fully automatically,” says Kaashoek in the FD.

Two additional sorting centres for DHL

With around 30% of the parcel market, DHL currently delivers 900,000 parcels to people’s doors every day. The company has increased its workforce from 8,000 to 12,000 and hired an additional 4,000 temporary workers, carriers and subcontractors to meet increased demand. DHL has also announced plans to build two additional sorting centres in addition to the one the company opened in the Dutch town of Zaltbommel last year.

Source: FD