ACT News


Signed, sealed, delivered: our very online Christmas

The commercial version of Christmas may be all about the presents but increasingly, it's also all about the deliveries.

From Santa Claus to the postie to the couriers delivering an avalanche of online purchases, the workload is frenetic in the countdown to Christmas Day.

Christmas is always the busiest time of the year for Australia Post, although it won't reveal specific volumes for parcels.

''Because that part of our business is in a competitive market,'' a spokeswoman said.

But Australia Post will say it delivers an extra three million parcels in December compared to a regular month.

It was expecting this Christmas to be busier than ever.


''With 10 million Australians now shopping online, there's no doubt that this is contributing to our record parcel volumes, with 70 per cent of all parcels we deliver being generated by an online transaction,'' the spokeswoman said.

''Australia Post is now delivering 11 per cent more parcels than this time last year.''

The city's couriers are also under the pump to get online purchases delivered to doorsteps by Christmas. Outfits such as Fastway Couriers say they have been flat out, with deliveries of wine big in Canberra for Christmas.

Isaacs couple Richard and Lois Cooper took delivery of a parcel on Friday - a shipment of coffee that they wanted by Christmas. They were regular shoppers on the photo printing site Snapfish, with the products delivered to their home. They've spent ''about the same'' this Christmas as last year, but not all of it online.

''It's nice to go to the shops and have a coffee and be part of it but sometimes it can be frustrating - just queuing and the lack of service in the shops,'' Mrs Cooper said.

Online retailers say last week was their big week for Christmas sales with buyers - nervous about whether they will get their deliveries on time - heading to bricks and mortar stores this week.

About $30 billion is expected to be spent at the shops this December and retail experts believe the fall of Christmas Day so soon after the weekend will see consumers make a last desperate dash for the shops this weekend.

''People are shopping later and later every year,'' said Margy Osmond, chief executive of the Australian National Retailers Association.

''The assumption is now that this weekend is going to be really, really big because people have now left their shopping so late - possibly generated by the fact we have a Saturday, Sunday, Monday before Christmas and people maybe think they can do the bulk of their shopping then.''

However, Linda Barrett, chief marketing and merchandise officer for online department store DealsDirect, said by using couriers the site was still delivering to 63,000 households in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane up to 3pm Friday.

Its distribution centre could send out up to 20,000 parcels a day and had been operating at capacity. Trampolines and outdoor furniture were the most popular items for Christmas.

Tony Nash, chief executive officer of online book retailer Booktopia, said it sold 200,000 books this month.

''Christmas has been huge for us. Sales are up 60 per cent on the previous year and that was a massive year too,'' he said.

''I've been working in this business for nine years and every year it gets bigger and bigger.''

But no one is working harder at this time of year than Santa Claus.

Airservices Australia, the government-owned corporation, has been working with Santa for the last fortnight to ensure his passage through the nation's airspace is smooth and incident-free.

A spokesman said Santa was expected to land on 9 million rooftops in Australia, which will make Christmas Eve far and away the busiest night of the year for the nation's air traffic controllers who usually manage 4 million flights in an entire year.

Airservices would be using its air traffic surveillance technology called Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast so that air traffic controllers could track Santa and his reindeers twice every second to monitor their progress. The spokesman said Santa was well-prepared. ''The reindeers are rested, Santa is rested. He's ready to go.''