With 1.5 million Aucklanders locked down, online shopping is up – and that’s putting pressure on NZ Post, as the company says it expects another surge in orders when Level 3 returns and e-commerce deliveries of non-essential items are allowed. 

NZ Post said 3.5 million parcels were delivered during the first two weeks of Alert Level 3 in 2020 and that a 105 per cent increase in online shopping during that time equated to 200 parcels a minute being delivered. 

NZ Post Chief Customer Officer Bryan Dobson says some delays across the country are to be expected in September, and an additional 1-2 working days for delivery of items should be anticipated. Last year’s post-Covid volumes saw an average of 250,000 items per day delivered, surging to 500,000 on the first day of alert level 3 and continuing for 10 days afterwards, and in February NZ Post announced it was still handling record-breaking volumes of parcels.

The reason for the delays is additional safety procedures at Alert Level 4. 

NZ Post also asked customers not to send items to businesses that are closed during Alert Level 4 and added that delivery cannot be carried out for anyone who has already sent an item to a business that is closed. 

NZ Post added it is gearing up to meet the increase in parcels. “We’ve re-designed our Auckland network since the last lockdown to ease potential areas of congestion, set up temporary processing sites and we are operating extended processing hours,” Dobson said.

NZ Post cautioned that it has been working with online retailers to manage the parcels received to deliver to New Zealanders and said it will need to limit items accepted into its network in line with what it can reasonably deliver.

“This may mean some parcels are delayed before they reach the NZ Post network. This will help to avoid the surge of parcels we received last year when we moved into Level 3 after an extended period of time in Level 4. This created a large backlog of parcels that really hampered our network and caused additional delays.”

The best place to find out about delays is on the NZ Post website, where customers can find FAQs about how NZ Post is operating at the different alert levels.

While NZ Post’s letter-delivery volumes have declined significantly in the past ten years, its three courier delivery brands are busy and profitable. NZ Post operates Rural Post, Pace and Courier Post. NZ Post also operates eCommerce and eShip for suppliers to dispatch their orders. 

How busy NZ Post is – by the numbers:

  • Shoppers spent $5.8 billion on online shopping last year, a 25 per cent increase. 
  • NZ Post holds 40 per cent of the overall courier market, including business-to-business work and lighter freight. 
  • NZ Post holds 70 per cent of the e-commerce market in NZ.
  • NZ Post’s half year results in February showed a $42 million increase in parcel revenue alongside a $39 million decline in letter revenue, with 32.2 million fewer letters sent (an 18% decrease).