Courier companies are these days facing demand comparable to the pre-Christmas period or Black Friday, as the coronavirus crisis has sent their workload soaring. However, the conditions they have to operate in are tough, and they are now scrambling to adapt to meet the jump in demand as a result of households’ rapid swing toward online commerce.
Apostolos Georgantzis, chairman and chief executive at ACS Courier, which has the largest market share (around 35 percent) and employs some 3,000 people, tells Kathimerini that demand for deliveries was steady in the first half of March. The shuttering of stores came with a drop in demand, but the latter skyrocketed in the last week of March, with the increase coming to an extra 50,000 deliveries on a daily basis.
“Compared to the same period in 2019, demand per day has risen by 50 percent on average. We could say that every day is Black Friday, while the method of delivery and working conditions in general have changed considerably because of the pandemic,” says Georgantzis.
So how are courier companies responding to the increased volume? “ACS has simplified procedures so that it can deliver products in times that are similar to those before the outbreak of the epidemic. To meet demand our company is hiring more staff and renting additional vehicles, absorbing most of the increased costs from the measures we are adopting to manage demand,” he notes.
For the subsidiary of the Quest Holdings group, the additional cost of its adjustment to the new conditions is estimated at about 2 million euros on a monthly basis. On Friday Quest Holdings President Theodore Fessas said the extra charge of 0.45 euros plus value-added tax per package that ACS had announced on Wednesday has been revoked and the company will review its additional costs during April and then revise its pricing policy.
Market professionals say the rise in demand for courier services will continue until May at the earliest, with some companies considering imposing a ceiling on the number of deliveries they undertake.