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covid-19 Swiss Post working overtime to cope with online shopping boom

delivery lausanne

Shops are closed, but parcels are still possible. Here, a delivery in Lausanne.

(Keystone / Laurent Gillieron)

With all but non-essential businesses and shops in the country closed, the postal service has seen its workload increase dramatically as housebound residents order online.

“Two weeks ago, we noted an increase of some 15% compared with normal volumes,” Swiss Post boss Roberto Cirillo said on Friday in an interview with the CH-Media group.

Since then, he added, volumes have been comparable to the period just before Christmas, while on Wednesday this week, numbers were similar to those of “Black Friday”.

The demand comes as Covid-19 measures in Switzerland have led to the closure of all but “non-essential” shops and a recommendation that everyone “stay at home” as much as possible. Online shopping has thus become the method of choice for those in need of unavailable products, on the one hand, but also for those less keen to step outside.

+ What is an “essential” product or shop?

For example, food deliveries have increased threefold, said Cirillo, which has put a strain on services and decreased the speed of deliveries.

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Swiss Post has begun sorting on Saturdays – something they usually only do during the Christmas period – and last week got the go-ahead from the government to also start delivering food packages on Sundays.

However, Cirillo says, the social distancing measures introduced across the country have also meant that the number of employees in the sorting centres, and the conditions under which they work, have also been limited.

Home comforts

Food and basic goods are not the only things in demand: Cirillo says oversized packages like bikes, sofas, and garden furniture have also been disproportionately in demand.

Due to the difficulties of preparing such products under current conditions, the postal services are introducing a size limit as of next Monday: maximum dimensions will be capped at 150 x 80 x 60 cm. Max weight will remain as it is, at 30 kg.

Other repercussions from the coronavirus pandemic and associated measures are an inability to guarantee next-day delivery for registered post, Cirillo said. Some post offices have also reduced opening hours, or closed completely, due to staffing or client shortages.


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