Online shoppers kept Australia’s posties busy in December with Australia Post recording the biggest month in its 209 year history.

Throughout December AusPost delivered 37 million parcels, that’s 20 per cent more deliveries per day compared to last year.

In the week before Christmas 11 million parcels were delivered by the carrier along with more than 100 million greeting cards and letters.

“On average our drivers and posties made more than five deliveries per household across Australia, making it a huge team effort,” said Bob Black, Australia Post COO and executive GM, eCommerce Delivery.

More than 2000 extra staff were employed to handle the record volumes and Post Office opening hours and delivery windows were extended.

According to AusPost, online shopping purchases in Australia grew 15 per cent in 2017 compared with 2016.

What drove the seasonal growth? Well a few reasons have been thrown around including Amazon’s December launch, competitive online deals offered by retailers, changing consumer habits, new finance options like Afterpay, the offer of free delivery and more flexible pick-up options and delivery options.

Delivery volume may have been helped by the launch of AusPost’s Shipster program which entitles members to free delivery on low value purchases from 50 Australian retailers.

Without revealing how many Australians have signed up to the service since it launched in October an Australia Post spokesperson told Which-50 Australians are embracing the program and it will be expanded in 2018.

“Customers using Shipster are frequent online shoppers, and are seeing savings from using this service with the retailers and brands they know and love. We are continuing to sign up even more retailers to Shipster, and are on track to offer a choice of more than 100 retailers this year,” the spokesperson said.

The unprecedented parcels volumes were fuelled by large sale events in late November including Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Click Frenzy. Boxing Day and New Year sales closed out the festive season for retailers.

According to Rob Hango-Zada, founder of shipping management platform Shippit, last two weeks of November were exceptionally busy due to three big sales events: Click Frenzy, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“By far the biggest event was Black Friday – volume was almost three times greater than Click Frenzy,” Hango-Zada told Which-50.

He attributes the growth to increased comfort in shopping online, better offerings from online retailers responding to increased consumer demands, and new payment options, like Afterpay, which cut barriers to purchase and increase the number of purchasing events.

According to AusPost, toys and Games were the most popular items bought online in the festive season, accounting for 35 per cent of the Christmas spend. Fashion items and homewares and appliances were also popular.

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