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Logistics companies and their customers are responding to seismic changes in online retail in an effort to tackle what is predicted to be an unprecedented peak in Christmas shopping.

Following research by Barclay’s Corporate Banking that showed 15% of UK firms have created roles to cater for an increase in online demand, warehousing and distribution firm Carlton Forest said it was also seeing companies switch to more localised logistics providers as they prepare for an uplift in orders.

Alistair Plant, divisional operations manager at Carlton Forest said: “This is a trend that we have seen at Carlton Forest 3PL and one that we expect to continue as the e-commerce market peaks in the run up to the festive period.

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“Evidence shows that these decisions are being made to drive supply chain efficiencies, but also build strong relationships based on flexibility and professionalism with providers that can deliver bespoke solutions given that predictions are being made on little or no, historical data.”

Carlton said online sales are currently running at 50% higher than this time last year and are predicted to rise further as families separated at Christmas choose gifts online and have them delivered direct instead.

“It’s really important that the 3PL sector continues to meet customer and consumer expectations and that businesses are prepared for this predicted festive boom,” added Plant.

His comments followed warnings by ParcelHero that record online spending exacerbated by Brexit could create “the Mount Everest of Christmas peaks” this year.