With more Canadians turning online for their holiday shopping needs, Purolator is adding new drop-off locations and more mobile pickup stops to deal with surging demand.
The shipping provider, which is majority-owned by Canada Post, said it expects to process 46 million packages over the holiday season, a 20 per cent increase from the same period last year. This comes after a summer period that featured volumes similar to what Purolator deals with on shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“We’ve been calling this the year of the super peak, because in terms of year-over-year growth, we’ve seen 40 to 50 per cent increases when it comes to volume surges,” Purolator chief executive John Ferguson said in an interview.
“It’s definitely been a lot of volume, sustained over a long period of time.”
To deal with the surging demand expected between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, Purolator is increasing the number of access points for shipment drop-off and pick-up by 30 per cent to 1,650. This includes 135 new locations at Michaels retail stores and 30 mobile quick stop trucks. The mobile trucks will be deployed in dense urban areas – for example, parked outside a cluster of condos in downtown Toronto – to provide easier access for consumers and ease the burden on the company’s network.
“On the e-commerce front, we’ve had a big surge... and we think the volume levels are here to stay,” Ferguson said, adding that the company has made sure to balance the volume it takes on with its logistics capacity.
“We’ve actually found ourselves with lots of demand and volume, to the point where we’re having to be careful about how much we even take on.”
Ferguson says that COVID-19 has accelerated the company’s digital and mobility-focused initiatives. Last month, Purolator unveiled several projects aimed at helping address last-mile delivery challenges while improving its environmental impact. The company is now testing new fully electric low-speed vehicles in Toronto and has expanded its fleet of cargo e-bikes in Montreal.
Purolator will also hire approximately 3,000 employees to assist through the busy holiday season.
While Canadians expect to spend less over the 2020 holiday season, largely due to concerns about the country’s economic outlook and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, many plan to use online sources for holiday purchases.
According to Deloitte’s 2020 Holiday Retail Outlook, online shopping will make up 44 per cent of Canadian holiday budgets, up from 36 per cent last year. The survey also found that 47 per cent of consumers have been shopping more online since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak began.
Canada Post has urged Canadians to shop early this holiday season to avoid the late arrival of gifts caused by a pandemic-induced shift to online shopping. The postal service is scaling up operations to handle an expected surge in parcel volumes by adding more than 4,000 seasonal employees, more than 1,000 vehicles and extra equipment.
With files from the Canadian Press
Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.