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will your Christmas gifts be delivered on time to the bottom of the tree?

With the approach of the holidays, transport problems are worrying customers and carriers, who have embarked on a race against the clock to ensure their deadlines.

“I placed my order on December 2, it is the 16th and I still have nothing!” Pierre is anxious. This father installed in Bayonne (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) watches with apprehension on his computer screen the evolution of the delivery of “Christmas present from my little girl who is 16 months old”, a wooden kitchenette stuck in a Bordeaux warehouse and which could arrive late under the tree. A concern shared on social networks by many buyers.

While the strike against the pension reform has disrupted transport since the beginning of December, hundreds of people are questioning on Twitter delivery platforms to find out where their purchases are located. According to the Federation of e-commerce and distance selling (Fevad), France now has nearly 40.5 million online shoppers. According to her, the Christmas period should represent 20% of sales of e-commerce sites. Or 20 billion euros in spending. A mountain of gifts purchased in one click which must then be sent.

At the center of concerns and critics: Mondial Relay, one of the main carriers of e-commerce in France and Europe. Leader in the distribution of parcels at relay points, the transport service has 9,166 sites spread across France. However, as the holidays approach, the hiccups are multiplying: absence of information, packages immobilized for several days on a platform, lost or returned to a distant relay point, delivery not indicated, etc.

As of December 6, Mondial Relay informed its customers that delivery times could be disrupted by the strike against the pension reform. The carrier indicated “make every effort” to improve the situation, explaining that the social movement was causing delays in transportation and “staff shortage” which leads to “route part of the packages to less impacted sites, causing delays”.

Faced with the large influx of deliveries, relay points were saturated. Like Ataur Rahman's computer store, located a stone's throw from the Volontaires metro station, in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. In addition to telephones and telephone and computer accessories, there are boxes, stacked as best they can at the corners of the rooms. Behind the counter, in every corner of the cramped space, the man consigns the smallest packaging. With Black Friday, Cyber ​​Monday and the holiday season, the pace of deliveries has accelerated. Ataur Rahman recorded nearly 1,500 packages received in November – compared to 900 to 1,000 packages usually – and more than 1,200 sent. He earns 15 cents on deposit and 30 cents on receiving packages.

Ataur Rahman poses in front of packages, in his computer store located in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, on December 18, 2019. (CHARLOTTE CAUSIT / FRANCEINFO)

Every morning, the parcels intended for dispatch are picked up by the carrier. The merchant therefore continues the shipments, but refuses to receive new packages. With the total interruption of metro line 12 since the start of the strike, users find themselves unable to pick up their order.

The problem is the packages that stay here, I don't have enough space to store them.Ataur Rahmanat franceinfo

The trader therefore finds himself in the obligation to return them. A situation confirmed by Mondial Relay. “Many of them ask us to limit the receipt of additional parcels, so we direct the parcels as close as possible to their point of origin”, explained the company to Point.

Other relay points find themselves obliged to limit the delivery of packages due to their excess activity during the holidays. “It's a lot of headache”, says the store manager. Some of the parcels that it cannot receive are sometimes routed in one of Mondial Relay's 800 “super relays”, which has the particularity of having no additional activity. One of them is also in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. AT one week of Christmas, the warehouse is almost empty to the great surprise of Sylla Djibril, the manager of the “super relay”.

You came last week, we were walking on gifts!Sylla Djibrilat franceinfo

The place was overflowing with boxes after Black Friday. “Many people have anticipated: they took advantage of the discounts to do their Christmas shopping “, he notes. In 2018, the Fevad indeed considered that 71% of the shoppers thus benefited from the Black’s business operations Friday and Cyber Monday to buy all or part of their gifts.

Sylla Djibril, responsible for a
Sylla Djibril, manager of a “super relay” of Mondial Relay in Paris, shows the displays in which the packages are stored, on December 18, 2019. (CHARLOTTE CAUSIT / FRANCEINFO)

Difficult however to make forecasts for the coming days: “I think we're going to have a busy weekend! Tomorrow, they can deliver 400 packages to me, I can't know this in advance.” Because the packages arrive safely. The problem relates more to the sending of parcels from Ile-de-France. We have packages that haven't moved since December 6, says Sylla Djibril. For those who do it at the last minute, it will be complicated. “

Foresight of buyers, but also traders and carriers. In anticipation of the surplus activity inherent in the holiday season, companies have strengthened: global Relay a so dforgot his means and Amazon hired 9000 seasonal to strengthen its 9,300 permanent employees.

Our delivery people don't fly over traffic, but we anticipate problems.Julie Valette, spokesperson for Amazon Franceat franceinfo

Chronopost and Amazon thus indicate not to know of any particular difficulties because of the strike and assure to be able to deliver before Christmas the gifts ordered on Monday December 23 later – for the giant American, however, you will need the Amazon option Premium. To ensure their deadlines, delivery companies anticipate and adapt.

We have shifted some of our drivers so that they can deliver earlier in the morning or later in the evening. And we have set up bicycle deliveries in Paris.Fatah Ziani, Director of Operations for DHL Franceat franceinfo

Transport difficulties seem to concern only large cities. In Occitania, Baptiste, a young delivery man working for a subcontractor of Chronopost even notes an improvement in the situation: “Last year, it was more difficult to deliver because roads and depots were blocked by the movement of 'yellow vests'.”

The toy giants King Jouet and JouéClub are not worried about the disruption of transport either. “We concentrated deliveries upstream”explains Patrick Jocteur Monrozier, communication manager at King Jouet. Store reserves began to be filled as early as September. Gifts should be able to be picked up on site or delivered safely.

Nothing to reassure Pierre. “My partner canceled my order for my Christmas present this morning because it was announced for early January, indignantly the young father. It was the first time and the last time that I tested delivery to a relay point. ” Rest assured, he still has a few days left to play Santa Claus.

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