THE first postboxes for parcels are coming to Swindon later this year.

More than 1,000 will be converted across the country into parcel postboxes with a larger hole and secure design.

These will allow small businesses and marketplace sellers to send pre-paid parcels and some return parcels without going to the post office.

Business West initiative manager Andrew Wells said: “There has been steady growth in the parcel market over the course of the last decade due to the expansion of online shopping.

"This move by the Post Office is clearly aimed at bolstering its position to compete with the likes of DPD and Hermes, which have an extensive network of parcel drop off points through local convenience stores.

“There is a growing army of online sellers, such as established small businesses growing their sales online or hobby businesses catering for niche audiences, who will welcome the convenience and flexibility that the parcel boxes offer.

“While it is not yet clear where exactly these parcel bins will be located in Swindon and Wiltshire, I hope that the rural parts of our region where getting to a post office might be a struggle are considered first in the queue.”

The rollout will take six months and begin in August – an exact date for Swindon is not yet known.

Royal Mail’s head of campaigns Mark Street said: "The wide-scale introduction of parcel postboxes is one of the many ways we at Royal Mail are looking to make the lives of our customers easier.

"The parcel postboxes trial last year was a success, and we hope that the wider roll-out gives added flexibility to online sellers who might be running a business in their spare time and not keeping regular office hours.”

This is the first major change in use for the UK postbox in 160 years, when the first ones were introduced in 1853, and follows a successful trial in 2018.

Parcel postboxes will also pop up in big cities including Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds and Aberdeen.

A Royal Mail spokesman added: “We had some fantastic feedback from SMEs and marketplace sellers where the initial six-week trial took place last year.

"The feedback has encouraged us to introduce this concept on a more wide-scale basis.

"The launch is designed to further expand our ability to respond to a rapidly growing parcels and online shopping market, and the ever-evolving wants and needs of our customers."