Online sales showed 20% year-on-year growth in IMRG MetaPack Index.

UK retailers are on course to dispatch a record 900 million orders or 930 million parcels in 2014, with 120 million orders predicted for December 2014 alone, according to the latest August IMRG MetaPack Delivery Index.

Online retail sales fell by 13.6% month-on-month in August, in a predicted downward turn for the e-tail industry. However, this still represented cumulative growth of 20% year-on-year, with overall sales trajectory continuing upwards.


Based on past e-retail delivery patterns, order volumes are expected to have increased by 10% in September and steadily grow in the run-up to Christmas.

IMRG head of e-logistics, Andrew Starkey, said: “With three years of data in the Index we can now predict the annual pattern of when and where these deliveries will be made. This means we can confidently anticipate that a record 120 million orders will be dispatched by UK retailers in December alone."

The Index also revealed that delivery service performance improved during August with close to 94% of deliveries on time which is higher compared to the same period for the last two years.

Overall the proportion of orders either late or not delivered at the first attempt was 10.72% in August compared to the monthly average of 11.6% over the last 12 months.

Starkey added: "Quality of service is higher this August than in the previous two years which bodes well for the peak period. Some delivery problems relating to address queries seem to be on the rise so retailers need to keep an eye on this."

The August IMRG MetaPack Delivery Index also reveals that more consumers are choosing next day or specified day delivery, with 28% opting to avoid economy postage for tailored options. By comparison, the proportion of next day or specified day orders fell to a low of 19% of all orders in 2013.

MetaPack marketing and strategy director, Angela O’Connell, commented: "The revival in premium delivery services will have been driven by many factors. It does suggest that consumers are feeling more comfortable in making last minute purchasing decisions, knowing they can trust retailers to make next day deliveries successfully.”

Giving customers more choice and freedom on deliveries will underpin how well the industry handles the pressures of the Christmas peak. It seems that August was a dry run for these alternatives and unsurprisingly shoppers have seized the opportunity to take greater control, supporting further investment in Sunday delivery and click and collect services."