With parcel carriers warning about delivery backlogs and huge customer demand for online orders, click & collect is emerging as a favoured form of fulfilment among consumers and retailers alike this Christmas.

Research released today by Barclays' retail & wholesale banking team suggests that retailers expect to see year-on-year growth of 49% in click & collect orders over the coming festive season. This relatively new form of delivery, which has emerged as retailers increasingly look to blend their online and offline operations, is expected to grow three times faster than home deliveries by 2018.

Barclays said that 43% of retailers are investing in click & collect as a delivery option, while 41% say they would struggle with the level of online orders without offering the service.

Richard Lowe, head of retail & wholesale at Barclays, said: "According to a recent report one in ten consumers fell victim to late deliveries last Christmas and it's clear to see how click & collect offers a practical, alternative solution.

"Amazon has also recently partnered with Royal Mail, allowing shoppers to collect their parcels from their local Post Office, and I believe we will increasingly see this kind of tie-up. These developments can only be good news for consumers, offering them increasing levels of choice and the confidence that their gifts will make it under the Christmas tree in time."

Some 71% of retailers say click & collect is critical to their business, and it has perhaps become even more important for them in recent days. Reports of a clogged pipeline of orders emerged last week, apparently caused by a raft of discount deals offered to customers during a promotion-heavy weekend at the turn of the month.

UK carrier Yodel, which works with a number of the country's largest retailers, warned that the so-called 'Cyber weekend' resulted in unexpectedly high parcel volumes across the carrier industry, meaning the business had to implement "a 24- to 48-hour deferment" on some of the new parcels coming into its sort centres.

Yodel said on Sunday that the parcel backlog has been cleared, but that new parcels entering its network "may still be subject to a 24 to 48-hour delay which is reflective of normal Christmas peak operations".

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Barclays retail and wholesale

Yodel