The Christmas peak could be even later this year, as early indications suggest slower growth in parcel volumes than in previous years.

As parcel carriers are gearing up for the busiest time of the year, MetaPack claims parcel volumes since the beginning of September have risen just 8% this year, compared with 11% in 2012. It expects that consumers will be more relaxed about leaving their Christmas shopping to the last minute, resulting in a last minute rush in demand for capacity.

But is this really an example of shoppers ordering Christmas gifts later, or is it an indication of the yearly peak beginning to level-out as many carriers have warned in the past? 2012 was a record year for parcel carriers, but how long can peak growth continue?

It may be too early to assume that growth in the online retail sector is slowing down, especially not until Monday 2 December has passed, which Amazon believes will be the busiest day for online retail orders. DHL Express, Yodel and Hermes have all reiterated that they are well prepared for any spike in volumes, but The Hub wonders whether they are preparing for a slightly gentler peak than expected.