Disabled people in UK find their ‘lockdown lifeline’ of online shopping threatened by delivery problems
Citizens Advice has found that two in five disabled people in the UK have had a problem with parcel delivery in a single week – a disturbing finding given that online shopping is for many a ‘lockdown lifeline’.
The percentage of disable people encountering delivery problem – 39%, which equates to 7.1 million – compares to just 27% for people who don’t identify as disabled.
The number is even higher – jumping to just over half (51%) – when looking at those in the shielded group, which includes those who are elderly, pregnant or have a long-term illness.
The delivery problems include parcels left in inaccessible places, delivery drivers not leaving enough time for people to answer the door, and goods not being delivered on time or at all.
Under lockdown, said Citizens Advice, parcel deliveries have become a ‘lifeline’, with over half (51%) of people saying they are more reliant on parcels than before the coronavirus outbreak.
In addition to this, UK consumers are spending more online, with an average of £2.5 billion spent a week online in June, compared to £1.5 billion in February (a 62% increase).
Despite this increasing reliance, Citizens Advice has seen a 119% increase in people seeking help on parcel issues on its website since lockdown began in March.
Last year, Citizens Advice called on delivery companies to improve parcel deliveries for disabled people. And with many disabled people belonging to the shielded group or relying even more on parcel deliveries due to Covid-19, Citizens Advice has warned that ‘ensuring that everyone has equal access to delivery services has become more important than ever’.
Five UK parcel companies – DHL Parcel, Hermes, DPD, Menzies, and Parcelly – have pledged to:
- Allow disabled people to specify their explicit accessibility needs and pass these onto the driver making the delivery. This could include allowing more time for drivers when delivering and leaving parcels in accessible locations that are easy to reach.
- Publish detailed accessibility information online so disabled people can choose where they can pick up and drop off parcels.
Now, Citizens Advice is urging all companies to commit fully to its pledge to make sure they’re giving all consumers equal access to delivery services.
Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “It’s hard to imagine how many of us would get through lockdown without getting parcels delivered. Over half of us say we’re more reliant on parcel deliveries than ever before.
“They’ve allowed us to send and receive gifts from families or friends to retain a sense of normality, and even helped businesses to stay afloat. But for many disabled consumers or for those previously shielding, parcel delivery has become a lifeline for accessing essential items.
“We’d like to see all parcel companies sign our pledge so they can deliver for everyone, regardless of their accessibility needs.”