What do the Royal Mail strikes mean for small businesses?

Red Royal Mail van on a UK street

Royal Mail workers have held a series of strikes in recent weeks during the busy lead up to Christmas.

This latest industrial action follows earlier walkouts in August and September, and has impacted peak shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Any small business using Royal Mail to ship online orders will need to plan ahead for delays and make sure they communicate this to their customers.

This article was updated on 7 December 2022.

When is Royal Mail on strike?

Strikes have been organised in November and December by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) over a dispute with pay and terms and conditions.

The next strikes take place on:

  • 9 December
  • 11 December
  • 14 December
  • 15 December
  • 23 December
  • 24 December

Earlier strikes were held on:

  • 24 November
  • 25 November (Black Friday)
  • 28 November (Cyber Monday)
  • 30 November
  • 1 December

How does the strike impact services?

Royal Mail says these strikes will cause ‘significant disruption’ to services, but some deliveries will take place:

  • delivery of as many Special Delivery and Tracked24 parcels as possible
  • delivery of Covid test kits and medical prescriptions will be prioritised wherever possible
  • letters won’t be delivered at all (except Special Delivery items)

Delivery of items posted the day before strikes, or during strike days, will be delayed.

When are the last posting days for delivery before Christmas?

Due to the strike action, the Royal Mail has brought forward the last posting days for delivery before Christmas.

  • for second class post, the last posting day is 12 December (instead of 19 December)
  • for first class post, the last posting day is 16 December (instead of 21 December)

How will the Royal Mail strike affect small businesses?

Small businesses with an online shop, whether that’s on Etsy, Depop, or another platform, will need to adjust estimated delivery times if using Royal Mail over this period.

Post offices will remain open as they aren’t involved in this dispute, so businesses can still post parcels for delivery. It just means delivery times may take longer than usual.

There will be delays in delivering items for Drop and Go customers, and some branches may reach their capacity for accepting mail on strike days.

Collections of mail by Royal Mail and ParcelForce Worldwide from post office branches will also be disrupted.

Businesses using alternative courier services to ship their products won’t face any disruption as a result of the Royal Mail strike.

How to communicate potential delays to your customers

Keeping up a good reputation and having a positive relationship with customers is important for small businesses. Although delays as a result of this industrial action are outside of your control, there are things you can do to make sure your customers are happy and informed:

  • update your website – let customers know to place their orders as a early as possible because Royal Mail industrial action could impact delivery times
  • be transparent in order confirmation emails – make sure it’s clear that delivery could take longer than expected due to the strikes

More guides and tips for small businesses

How have Royal Mail strikes affected your business? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Photograph: Mino21/stock.adobe.com

Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.

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