Royal Mail is taking on an extra 250 staff and hiring 43 extra vehicles in Oxford in the run-up to Christmas to cope with predicted record levels of post, it announced yesterday.

The extra staff will work at the main Oxford Mail Centre, in Cowley.

Rob Jenson, the Royal Mail's general manager for the Thames Valley, pledged that the organisation would be ready to meet the expected demand.

He said: “Christmas is our busiest time of year and our people and the extra staff we take on will be working very hard to ensure that the bumper Christmas mailbag is delivered on time.

“This year we’re expecting record levels of parcels and packets to pass through our network, as the number of people shopping online increases hugely.

“Royal Mail is prepared for its biggest online Christmas ever and has taken steps to help people get their items as quickly as possible – even if they’re not at home when we first try to deliver.

“The majority of items ordered online are delivered first time, but we have put in place a package of measures to help people who are not at home to receive the item, in cases where it’s too big to go through the letterbox or requires a signature.”

The recommended last posting dates for delivery in time for Christmas are: Tuesday, December 23, for UK Special Delivery; Saturday, December 20, for UK first class mail; Thursday, December 18, for UK second class mail; Friday, December 12, for Western Europe airmail; Wednesday, December 10, for US, Canada, Japan and Eastern Europe airmail; and Friday, December 5, for Australia, New Zealand, South and Central America, Caribbean, Africa, Middle East and Asia airmail. See for more details.