The Post Office has said sales surged over the Christmas period as customers sent more gifts by mail due to Covid-19 restrictions keeping families and friends away from each other.
In the four weeks to December 27, 51.3 million customers used the Post Office and income across the network jumped 17% to £66.3 million.
The week beginning Monday December 7 was the busiest of the year, with 15.1 million transactions, as mail and parcel services benefited from stores being closed under the new tiering system.
The Post Office is classed as an “essential” retailer and remained open throughout Covid-19 restrictions, with 11,450 branches still trading.
Bosses also revealed they had benefited from a jump in online businesses using the Post Office to mail products to customers and use fast-track services.
Sales value for mail and parcel services increased 87% as a result, the company said.
Cash and banking services slipped by 10%, despite independent businesses increasingly relying on local Post Offices for deposits.
In the four-week period, £1.56 billion was deposited and £630 million withdrawn, although bosses said this was expected considering the Covid-19 restrictions.
A British Gas contract which started in January 2020 helped bill payment services jump 27% across Post Offices and Payzone services.
But cancelled holidays and restrictions on overseas travel saw a plunge of 69% in the company’s travel money division as the demand for foreign currencies fell away.
Post Office chief executive Nick Read said: “After a very challenging year for much of the retail sector, I am pleased to see 17% growth in network income over the Christmas period thanks to the hard work of postmasters.
“The mails market, particularly for parcels, remains very strong driven by the growth in online retailing.”