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The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) says the new parcel collection service announced by Royal Mail will be a severe blow to many of its members.

Royal Mail’s Collect Plus will see postal workers pick up packages directly from customers at their doors for a fee of 72p per parcel, in addition to postage costs.

Many smaller independent retailers already offer a parcel collection and return service to customers during opening hours, and will lose vital revenue because of the move by Royal Mail.

NFRN member Graeme Pentland, who owns Ashburton Village Store in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, said: “This is definitely going to be a blow to us.

“We have contracts with two of the major parcel delivery companies and also have our own service, whereby customers can have their parcels delivered to the shop.

“This is a growing part of our business, so the move by Royal Mail is bound to have a detrimental effect on us and other independent retailers, as well as the couriers.”

NFRN National President Stuart Reddish said using local stores for parcel collections and returns has a number of advantages in terms of convenience. Stores are open for up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, as opposed to having to book a time slot and be at home for the new Royal Mail service. Also, for many people, a visit to their local convenience store is the only time they go out.

Mr Reddish added: “Parcels are an important source of revenue for many of our members, and this is an unwelcome move at such a challenging time.

“Independent retailers have really stepped up to the mark during the Covid-19 pandemic, going above and beyond to serve their communities, and should be supported as much as possible.”

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