Yodel stops picking up online orders from retailers
The courier firm Yodel has stopped collecting parcels from retailers as it struggles to deal with the huge jump in online orders following the Black Friday sales.
The company says some customers will face delays of up to 72 hours as it works to clear the backlog.
It has told clients there will be no collections from distribution centres on Thursday or Friday.
The company said it hopes to resume normal service on Monday.
In a letter to clients, the company's executive chairman, Dick Stead, said that Black Friday and Cyber Monday had exceeded all analysts' expectations and in many cases orders for UK retailers were double the previous record level set last year.
Parcel volumes then continued with Manic Monday, earlier this week.
"This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but one that we have had to take to protect service levels," he said.
Yodel, which describes itself as the leading delivery company in the UK, said that orders would continue to be delivered: "We would like to reassure shoppers that there is no suspension to our delivery service." It said in a statement.
It added: "Deliveries will continue throughout this period, and we are working hard to ensure that these are made as soon as possible. However, some parcels may be delayed for up to 72 hours.
"By Monday we expect to resume our normal service. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience this may cause to our clients and their customers."
A spokesperson for Amazon, which uses Yodel as one of its couriers, said: "Amazon orders continue to be processed and delivered in the normal time frame. For example, Prime customers can order for next day delivery."
Catalogue retailer, Argos, said deliveries to its customers were unaffected, but that a small number of customers wishing to return goods over the next couple of days would be temporarily affected by Yodel's suspension to its collection service for some retailers.
It said: " We are very sorry and are urgently contacting all affected customers to rearrange their collections.
"In the meantime, unlike other online retailers, customers have the option of returning items at their nearest Argos store. 90% of the UK population lives within seven miles of one of our 734 stores."
Earlier this week Marks and Spencer was forced to extend delivery dates for online orders as a new distribution centre struggled to cope with heavy Christmas demand.
The online retail industry body, IMRG, recently predicted that Christmas 2014 would be the busiest on record for the UK's online logistics industry.
Andrew Starkey, IMRG's Head of e-Logistics, commented: "All the indications are that more than 210 million online parcels will be sent out during November and December by UK retailers alone."