London-based delivery service ParcelHero said that it’s forecasting an £8.49bn (€9.5bn-$11.5bn) monster Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekend. It warns that stores must learn from the disaster of Black Friday 2014 or delivery chains could snap once again this year. In 2019, Britons spent a £5.55bn (€6.2bn-$7.4bn) on Black Friday-Cyber Monday bargains.

ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks, says online sales are already up 53 percent year-over-year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Add the surge in demand created by the Black Friday sales extravaganza, the company fears that the country could be in for a repeat of the now-infamous 2014 delivery traumas. In that year, British shoppers were recorded across all media channels fighting each other and tussling over bargains inside supermarkets. As a result, huge numbers of consumers went to the internet instead, resulting in a then-record online Black Friday turnover of £810m (€911m-$1bn). “The problem [in 2014] was that no-one was prepared for this scale of online ordering,” Jinks said. “Nearly one in three online shoppers experienced problems with their orders that Christmas, 49 percent suffered from missed deliveries due to overstretched companies’ erratic delivery patterns, while 45 percent experienced late deliveries or never received their goods.” The spike in online orders caught many of the U.K.’s biggest brands off-guard. According to ParcelHero, the likes of AO.comM&SRiver IslandCurrys-PC WorldShop Direct and Debenhams all admitted to disruptions to their delivery networks in fulfilling the record number of orders. “Even the Amazon found itself very overstretched,” Jinks said. It’s widely believed that this was the reason Amazon was forced into creating its own Amazon Logistics arm. Amazon now delivers between 7 to 10 percent of all U.K. parcels at Christmas.

ParcelHero believes that Black Friday 2020 in the U.K. must either be stopped in its tracks or spread over the first two weeks of December to give retailers’ supply partners a chance to fight. In France, Amazon and other major stores have just agreed to move Black Friday sales to December when France’s own lockdown ends. In addition, the French government is looking into ways of restricting or even abolishing Black Friday for environmental reasons.

According to ParcelHero, Black Friday 2020 has all the hallmarks of 2014. Delivery networks are already at full capacity. “Black Friday could well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” fears Jinks. “Either retailers must stagger bargains throughout December or their delivery partners are going to have to borrow Santa’s sleigh. Otherwise, this Black Friday will have many shoppers seeing red.”