Christmas comes early – or late – as cards sent three months ago arrive

The BBC said some staff on Today had sent Christmas cards in December which had not yet arrived
The BBC said some staff on Today had sent Christmas cards in December which had not yet arrived - Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Christmas has come exceptionally early for some this year – or late, depending on which way you look at it – as seasonal greetings cards sent three months ago have only just arrived in the post.

A number of people have spoken out after receiving Christmas cards out of season, joking that the odd timing of their arrival is either down to Royal Mail delays or cards being sent early on in the year.

It follows accusations of Royal Mail prioritising parcels over letters, with industry sources predicting in the run-up to Christmas that cards would not arrive until the spring.

Lizzy Campbell, from Eye in Suffolk, said she was surprised to receive a Christmas card in February, and that the same thing happened to a friend who lives in her area.

‘I’d love to know what happened to it’

“I received a very late Christmas card – or a very early Christmas card – it depends how you look at it I suppose,” she told the BBC’s Today programme. “I’ve certainly never had a Christmas card this late – never.”

“A very local friend has got the same card, received it on the same day as I did, and I have heard a number of others have the same thing happening to them.

“The sender has posted it second class before Christmas and now it’s three months late. I’d love to know the true story, what happened to it.

“And I wonder how many there were in the end, not just from this sender but from others whose cards have just arrived.

“It’s rather a lovely card to receive on a very murky day in February,” she added.

The BBC said some staff on Today had also sent Christmas cards in December which had not yet arrived, with one journalist saying 12 people had been in touch, saying they had not received her cards.

Royal Mail was fined last year for consistently failing to meet delivery targets, with a Telegraph poll finding that 49 per cent of respondents had experienced delays this year and 48 per cent said service had deteriorated.

Industry sources told this newspaper in December that gifts in parcels were likely to reach their destinations in time for Christmas Day, but warned that letters could be delivered as late as February.

It was claimed this was owing to the company prioritising parcels over letters, as they are more profitable.

Royal Mail also had to bring forward the final posting dates for Christmas cards because of strikes.

This year, Royal Mail recommended December 20 as the final date for posting first-class mail in time for Christmas and Dec 18 for second class.

‘Best performance in four years’

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “This festive period was our best performance in four years, with more than 99 per cent of first- and second-class items posted by the last recommended posting dates delivered in time for Christmas.

“We would be happy to investigate any reported cases to determine if there were any local issues that may have impacted delivery.”