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For the first time in its 360-year history, Post Office will allow its customers to choose other parcel carriers over the counter in its branches, as well as Royal Mail Group.

The new buy-in-branch parcel service, in partnership with DPD and Evri, will begin in selected branches in time for the peak Christmas delivery season. The service is designed to complement the recent launch of Parcels Online, which enables customers to compare and purchase postage online for drop-off in Post Offices.

In chosen branches, Post Office customers will be able to walk up to a counter and choose to send their parcels with DPD or Evri, in addition to existing services, so they can choose the delivery carrier which best suits their needs.

According to new research commissioned by Post Office, 76% of the UK population send parcels each year. More than one in three (37%) tend to shop around to find the best delivery deals while almost half (48%) wish there were more delivery providers available to choose from at one location when they are posting parcels.

The announcement, which comes in the run-up to the busy Christmas period highlights new research showing that 40% of people admit sending parcels at Christmas can be stressful as they worry that it could get lost (47%) or won’t arrive in time (43%). While, 84% of UK adults consider Post Office as a reliable place for their parcels to be dropped off, so this new service aims to help further reassure customers when sending parcels at this time of year.

The launch will not only benefit customers by providing greater parcel carrier choice, Postmasters will also reap the rewards of this new service as customers realise all their mails and parcels needs can be met in their local branch.

Neill O’Sullivan, managing director of parcels and mails at Post Office, said: “Post Office is innovating to meet changing customer preferences and the increasingly competitive market. Our goal is to deliver unparalleled access to parcel services, addressing the needs of businesses and retail customers, both now and in the future.

“Our new buy-in-branch service reflects how Post Office has adapted as a business to ensure our customers now have access to multiple delivery carriers and services conveniently in their local Post Office. It’s very exciting to have major carriers DPD and Evri as our launch partners for this new service which will be rolled out across branches over the coming months. We will continue to innovate to provide a broader range of options to suit customer needs through our extensive network.

“Our buy-in-branch parcel service will not only widen delivery choice for our customers but our in-person service provided by our dedicated Postmasters will also give them additional peace-of-mind knowing their parcels will be taken care of and arrive safely.

“Our ongoing partnership with Royal Mail remains of utmost significance to us, and this announcement further enhances the Post Office’s pivotal role as an indispensable one-stop hub for communities where our valued customers can confidently participate in a wide array of face-to-face transactions, all while enjoying the exceptional assistance and support we provide.”