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COVID-19 increases importance of shopping, shipping early this Christmas

Last Updated Nov 14, 2020 at 7:26 am PDT

FILE - A Canada Post employee climbs into a mail truck. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese)

Four thousand extra staff have been hired, 1,000 delivery vehicles have been added at Canada Post for the holidays

Shopping and shipping early will be key as the country celebrates the first Christmas of the COVID-era

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — With gatherings limited and travel discouraged the role of Santa will be increasingly played by Canada Post workers this year, and the Crown corporation says preparation is key to make sure gifts end up under the tree in time.

Thanks to the popularity of online shopping when the pandemic hit, Canada Post — which delivers two-thirds of all packages in the country — has already had a busier year than usual.

“You could see over the year that people became more comfortable with it, not just buying the essentials but buying the things that they wanted. Then it moved on to patio furniture and all types of large items. We’ve seen everything literally and the kitchen sink this year,” says spokesperson Jon Hamilton.

Four thousand extra staff have been hired, 1,000 delivery vehicles have been added, and hours have been extended.

People who would usually visit loved ones will likely opt to send cards or presents instead, meaning more parcels during what is already peak season. Small businesses switching to online ordering for the first time is adding to the volume.

“We’re trying to avoid a surge of parcels that usually hits around Cyber Monday, Black Friday. But around mid-December, the cheaper options start to evaporate and you’re into spending a little bit more money,” Hamilton says.

“We just want everyone to, if you can, shop early. Give those businesses a little extra time, give us a little extra time. Spread it out so we don’t see that last-minute glut just before Christmas. That’s the typical Canadian Christmas tradition but we have to break with that tradition this year because even with everything we put in place, everyone we hire there’s a limit to what we can process safely.”


Deliveries are being affected by several COVID-related factors — such as fewer flights, and disrupted supply chains.

“A lot of those parcels fly under the bellies of airplanes whether it’s commercial or planes dedicated to shipping, there’s just a lot less air traffic which means things are a little slower,” Hamilton says.

“The infrastructure that normally serves the planet just isn’t at the level that it normally is.”

He encourages everyone to get familiar with cut-off dates, particularly if shipping outside Canada.

“It’s been a long, tough year and we want to do everything we can to help retailers and Canadians end the year with a good Christmas, I think we could all use it. “