Parcelforce, Royal Mail’s express parcels business, is to launch a Sunday delivery service in June for online shoppers through participating e-retailers.
The move will pre-empt DPD, which has already set out plans to launch a Sunday service in July.
And Royal Mail will trial Sunday deliveries within the M25 later in the summer. It will also pilot Sunday afternoon opening of 100 delivery offices to allow customers to collect parcels.
Royal Mail CEO Moya Greene said: “Through these new Sunday services we are exploring ways to improve our flexibility and provide more options for people to receive items they have ordered online. The support of the Communication Workers Union has enabled us to respond quickly to a changing market, underlining the importance of the ground-breaking Agenda for Growth agreement.”
In February, Hermes said it planned to be the first consumer delivery company to offer Sunday deliveries. In January, Amazon launched a Sunday delivery service to Amazon Prime members in seven key cities across the UK.
The moves reflect the growth of the parcels market, driven by e-commerce, and the decline of the letters market.
Royal Mail published an analysis by PwC last year which suggested that the UK parcels market would increase from 1.7 billion items in 2012 to 2.3 billion in 2023.
At the same time the letters market is expected to decline from 13.8 billion items in 2012 to 8.3 billion in 2023. The market has already seen a substantial decline – in 2005 it stood at 19.7 billion items.
Royal Mail is also opening its distribution network later on a Saturday and on Sundays to enable larger e-retailers to hand items ordered by shoppers on a Saturday afternoon and Sunday to Royal Mail for delivery on a Monday.
Dwain McDonald, DPD’s CEO said: “”While Royal Mail’s trial is significant, I believe our offering is light years ahead.”