With Covid Christmas bubbles limited to three households – and many people opting to avoid seeing loved ones altogether – we’re likely to be sending more gifts and cards in the post this festive season.
But the Royal Mail has warned that ongoing pandemic restrictions, reduced air and freight capacity, high volumes of post and winter weather conditions are all impacting transportation and local delivery across the globe.
In some cases, people have received deliveries weeks after they expected, according to a BBC report. Small business owners are among those concerned about delays, if they can’t get their goods to customers ahead of Christmas.
“We’re working hard to keep any delays to a minimum at this, our busiest time of the year, while keeping our people and customers safe,” Royal Mail said in a statement. “We’re sorry for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience and understanding.”
So, when do you need to get your goods in the post if you want them to arrive before Christmas?
Due to the uncertainty of the year, it really is a case of the sooner the better.
You’ll also save on postage if you beat the rush, as closer to December 25, you’ll have to opt for first class or one of Royal Mail’s pricier ‘special delivery’ packages.
Royal Mail has set out the following 2020 recommended posting dates, to get post there in time for Christmas.
UK postal dates
Friday 18 December: 2nd Class and 2nd Class Signed For
Monday 21 December: 1st Class and 1st Class Signed For and Royal Mail Tracked 48
Tuesday 22 December: Royal Mail Tracked 24
Wednesday 23 December: Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed
International postal dates
If you’re sending post overseas, unfortunately you’ve missed out on Royal Mail’s ‘economy’ service, because the dates ranged from mid-October to late November.
Instead, you’ll need to opt for Royal Mail’s International Standard and International Tracking and Signature services, or send through Parcelforce Worldwide. International postal dates vary by country, but some are as early as the first week of December, so get moving quickly.
You’ll find a full list of dates by country on the Post Office’s website.
Order straight from the retailer
If you’ve really left things too late, an alternative option is to order a gift straight from a retailer to your loved one’s abode. Some online stores will give you a ‘gift wrap’ option, meaning your disorganisation can fly under the radar.
The last recommended order date from Amazon, for example, is December 20, but some products can be ordered on December 23 and delivered as late as Christmas Eve.
At John Lewis, the last order date for standard deliveries is December 18, but you can order up until 8pm on December 22 if you pay for next day delivery.
Check each individual retailer’s terms and conditions before filling your basket.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.