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Business / Shetland the UK’s Black Friday ‘hotspot’ – but concerns remain over Royal Mail recruitment difficulties

SHETLAND has topped a list of the UK’s Black Friday shopping “hotspots” – at a time when Royal Mail is struggling with staff numbers in the isles.

The Royal Mail list shows the top 10 places in the UK where residents received the highest average number of parcels per household.

Shetland was followed by Kirkwall, St Albans and the Hebrides on the list.

Black Friday, held on 24 November this year, marks the start of the Christmas shopping season, and many online retailers offer discounts.

Royal Mail’s chief commercial officer Nick Landon said: “Christmas is Royal Mail’s busiest period, with around double the normal volumes of parcels and stamped letters processed.

“At Royal Mail, we’re geared up to help with all your festive preparations, whether that’s delivering the presents that tens of millions of people will be shopping online for, or the nation’s love and best wishes through Christmas cards.”

But the Communication Workers Union has expressed concern at the staffing levels within Royal Mail in Shetland amid recruitment difficulties.

The union said numbers are around 30 per cent below full capacity, with existing staff working “flat out”.

Its regional secretary for Scotland Craig Anderson told BBC Radio Shetland: “It really is a situation that is only going to get worse.

“The weather’s going to get worse, the parcels are going to get worse.”

He noted that bringing in temporary staff could result in issues with workers not knowing the local geography, as well as available accommodation.

Anderson said there needs to be more investment put to Shetland with maintaining services and jobs.

A spokesperson for Royal Mail said there were difficulties in attracting new employees to Shetland.

This was despite a new £1,500 “welcome bonus” being introduced.

The spokesperson added that new recruits will be joining workforce at the Lerwick delivery office early next month, in addition to seasonal staff over Christmas.

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They said: “The teams in Lerwick and across Shetland are working extremely hard to ensure a consistent service to households.

“Our employees are committed to serving the community and we are proud of the work they’re doing to sort, deliver and collect mail during this busy festive period.”

The spokesperson said recruitment difficulties have caused delays to services, but “everything is being done to keep these delays to a minimum”.

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