Thousands of small businesses in London fear a postal raid ahead of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas.
Online retailers and other suppliers said the strikes starting tomorrow would lead to higher costs and more unforeseen scheduling issues later in the year when supplies are more sensitive.
The Communications Workers Union (CWU) confirmed yesterday that talks with Royal Mail management have ended without agreement after the privatized postal company made its ‘best and final’ offer.
And tomorrow and Monday strikes are scheduled for December 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and Christmas Eve.
The confirmation forced businesses and charities to look for alternative and less expensive shipping options to fulfill orders.
A spokesperson for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said: “The FSB has seen the lowest level of confidence for the third quarter of the economy, entering a golden period and the strikes will hit small businesses from many angles.” A quarter of retailers have also been hit by a Christmas postal strike, adding to the burden of doing business, undermining business confidence and potentially causing small businesses to lose out to larger online competitors. »
Simon Gill, EVP Purchasing at consultancy Proxima, said: “Black Friday is one of the busiest days for UK retailers and with the majority of sales now coming from e-commerce, the Royal Mail strike is a real challenge for retailers and consumers.
“Retailers are struggling to meet shipping demands and consumers must expect serious order delays. Some prefer to do business with couriers such as Yodel or DHL, but they have quickly reached capacity with increasing mail demand.”
A group of disabled artists have demanded urgent government intervention as the strikes could have dire consequences. Mouth and Foot Painters (MFPA) have written to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to highlight the damage the proposed postal strikes will cause.
“Our artists and countless other small independent businesses depend on an efficient postal service during a critical period when people send Christmas cards and gifts and online shopping increases.
“The timing of the strike could not be worse, but there is still time to reduce and find other ways to get financial attention.”
Jessica Wheelock, home insurance expert at comparison site Confused.com, said: “Black Friday is one of the most popular days for online shopping and this alone causes delays even though there is no strike. All strikes are expected to continue. It’s the holiday season, so there may be a risk of package delivery leading up to Christmas.
“When you order products online, the seller is responsible for ensuring that they reach you and that they arrive safely and on time. Therefore, if you receive delayed or damaged items, you should contact them. It is also a good idea to take photos. If this happens, the retailer can examine the evidence.”
The Royal Mail chief executive said: “The planned CWU strike is delaying Christmas and putting members’ jobs at risk to save our customers, businesses and families across the country.”
But CWU boss Dave Ward said: “We’re not shaking things up at the moment. No worker or union will accept the jobs, losses and conditions that are so close to our hearts for the future of the industry.