Sunday 17 November 2013

Nomadic Pop-Up Post Office Shop - now you see it, now you don't, and guess what's inside ?

Royal Mail announcement 15 November:

Royal Mail are delighted to be working with Post Office Ltd on their Christmas Stamp Shop. This Pop Up Post Office is a large mobile trailer that will tour some of the major shopping locations around the UK in the run up to Christmas.

The Post Office will be selling Christmas Stamps and Smilers.  In addition, Royal Mail’s own Post and Go terminal will be vending Post and Go stamps.  The truck will be open from 11 am - 7 pm

Full details are listed below:

·         Royal Mail’s Post and Go machines used for Exhibitions:  A3 and A4
·         Post and Go Stamps: Robins (MA13) and 2nd Class (MA12) - not MA13* §§
·         There is no overprint
·         Receipts will be unique to each venue
·         The Smilers sheets will be available in 10 and 20 stamp sheets with the following designs available:
o   Madonna and Child 1st and 2nd class - no 2nd class
o   Christmas 2012 Santa 1st Class may be available dependant on early demand

§§  Well, so much for official information sources.  If this is a foretaste of what we can expect now that Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd are split, and external contractors are involved, the future looks to be full of confusion.

After the original MA13 report was countered by Royal Mail,  yesterday evening I received a report that the MA13 2nd class Faststamps had indeed been purchased at Newcastle on day 1, for a brief period.  Evidence from eBay and another blog shows that MA12 stock was loaded in both machines initially but that MA13 stock was loaded part-way through the morning of 20 November (Day 1).

I delayed reporting this initially because I wanted to find out whether the stamps were available from both machines and whether our representative on the road had was able to secure any for our customers.  (My initial thought was that he might not have made the journey when the 'no MA13' correction was made.)  I now believe that we may be able to secure some and make some FDCs for our customers.  More news to those customers later.  I've been told that only 2 rolls (of 1500 labels) were available.  But that does not mean that there may be more later depending on usage - by Shepherds Bush who knows what might be available.  

UPDATE 26 NOV:  An pair of stamps listed on eBay bought at Glasgow on Sunday morning (24th) is reported to have MA13 code, and we have since had reliable information that MA12 was available on Saturday, but MA13 was on sale on Sunday.  Both MA12 and MA13 were available at Liverpool.

Thanks to Mike, here are some pictures from Newcastle:

Click on the 'receipt' image to see a larger version.

(Note London Westfield is Shepherds Bush, not Stratford.)

Thanks to several contributors for this information.

Glasgow: 23 November both machines had MA12 2nd class.  24th November MA13 loaded and session numbers 2536(A3) and 2569(A4) obtained.

5th December: Machine A3 had MA13 Robins and MA13 2nd class and A4 had MA13 Robins and MA12 2nd class.   After 2pm - the 2nd class roll MA13 was now sitting in A4 and A3 was holding the MA12.
Visited twice on the 5th and once on the 6th. Business was slow on the 1st day with no crowds and no queue
The system was in use by the public but not in any quantity and used mainly for an individual value e.g. a Christmas card to Canada or a letter to Hong Kong. Sales push was with the Smilers and as these were ordered through the machine each sale would be logged and go on the final total figure so even though there might have been 40 transactions it would include the Smiler requests.

I am surprised that this wandering trailer - we used to know them as Mobile Post Offices - is making such a passing visit to each location.   Last year, Post Office Ltd announced that the pop-up post office (which opened on 30 November) was:

"The first of its kind to be found in the UK is located in Camden Market and is showcasing a range of collectible and retail items. The Pop Up shop will be open seven days a week and customers will benefit from extensive opening hours as well as a range of services including posting and packaging.  To help make life easier for customers a gift wrapping service is also available with all donations going to BBC Children in Need."

I haven't had a formal statement from Post Office Ltd about the rationale behind the tour, but understand that the focus is on selling stamps - expect there to be blow-ups of the competition winners designs - and instant Smilers.  There will be no counter services, no Horizon system, though there may be a posting box, presumably with mail to be offloaded into the local mail distribution system. So although they are described as post offices, they are really just post office retail units.

There is no doubt that - despite initial difficulties in actually finding it - customers made the Camden unit a great success.  The new mobile trailers - to be located in major shopping streets or covered shopping centres - will stand out.  It seems they won't be tucked away in an otherwise vacant corner.   But can the same sort of success be replicated when the unit is only in one place for two days?

By chance the Camden unit's turnover included significant philatelic sales as collectors and dealers found definitive stamps not previously available from Royal Mail's Tallents House bureau or from many post office branches, and further supplies were made available as collectors bought up initial stocks.  Philatelic sales will be far lower (pro rata) at these venues than at Camden last year, although collectors will certainly flock to Newcastle on 20th November for the new 2nd class Machin Faststamps with year code MA13 simply because it will be available for the first time.
(see above!)
But one has to question why it exists, given that stocks of the MA12 version were sold only at Spring Stampex and in bureau packs and have never appeared in Post Office Wincor-Nixdorf machines.   I'm not one for using the term 'cynical exploitation' but I feel sure that the original print run of MA12 2nd class Machin Faststamps has not been exhausted.

Some pictures from our readers - many thanks Doug, !

The leaflet given out in the Covent Garden area:
Croydon pictures from John McCullum:

and Covent Garden from John


  1. If you only want an example from each machine with each date code, then it’s not too bad, if you want examples from each location, then dealers and ebay are going to be busy. I don’t suppose you know the opening hours for the truck (truck in Westfields?) and will the Post Office strike on the 20th (Wednesday) affect the opening hours? Will the Cardiff stop through up welsh language/ bilingual receipts

  2. Are we collecting stamps or receipts? :-)

  3. There will be some who want labels from each venue, though two sites in Newcastle over 2 days is a bit excessive. But a Welsh or bilingual receipt for Cardiff, maybe one in scots for Glasgow? would break up the monotony of what is becoming rather repetitive.

  4. The Newcastle venue involves a switch of the same SINGLE 'Stamp Van' between Northumberland Street North (20/11) to Northumberland Street South (21/11).

  5. I would say unlikely as the existing Welsh P&G machines dont have a bilingual option (well the one in Aberystwyth doesn't and I would say Welsh is spoken more there than in the south where the other three are located) but never say never, if there are two machines then perhaps we could have Welsh/Gaelic overprints on the stamps too, or would that be against regulations?

    1st Class/ 1st Adran
    1st Large/1st Braisg or Mawr?
    Ewrop /Europe
    Worldwide/ BydEang (can you put these two words together?)

    I believe the Horizon system issues bilingual receipts?

  6. On e-bay already!!!

  7. I've just been advised by the seller that the 2nd/2nd Large on offer are MA12!

  8. I have bought and just received
    Robins MA13 Collectors set - Machine A3 Session 2449
    2nd Class and 2nd Class Large MA13 - Machine A4 Session 2404

    1. It's the 27th - where are you Stuart ???

    2. Sorry.
      These were issued at Newcastle on 20th

  9. Anyone knows the opening hours for the truck (Royal Mail's Christmas Pop-up shop) please? As it's coming to Birmingham this Thursday and Friday… :p

    1. From Post Office, via twitter: they are open until 7pm, but only from 11am, so no need to rush in the morning! Thanks for asking, I'l add the info to the blog post.


  11. Went to Cardiff on Saturday 7th. Machine A3 had MA13 Robins on Reel A and MA13 2nd Class Machins on Reel B. Machine A4 had MA13 Robins on Reel A and MA12 2nd Class Machins on Reel B. The shop is looks like its designed to travel to shows /events/exhibitions and provide a PO presence. However apart from the guy manning the machines (who was extremely helpfull and knowledgeable) the rest of the operation consisted of lots of PR girls whose main focus was to grab and picture you with their I-Pads inside the van and then encourage you to buy a sheet of smilers with said picture. They noticeably glazed over when I asked them which machine the MA113 2nd class machins were in before the chap mentioned previously came to the rescue!!!. Interestingly there was no post box available which surprised me, there was just a signpost pointing you to the nearest one which was 100m away. If anyone from the PO reads this, great idea, location in Cardiff could have been better as most of the Xmas shoppers there (and there were a lot) were in the St Davids shopping Centre on Saturday and many would have by-passed St Mary Street! Why was the West Country ignored on this tour, a couple of days in Exeter would have been good!

  12. On Dec 8 Cardiff had MA13 2nd class in machine A3 and MA12 2nd class in machine A4

  13. Visited Croydon Pop up Shop this morning.
    2nd MA13 in A3 , 2nd MA12 in A4

    Receipt A3 misprinted Westpick Shopping Centre soon corrected to Whitgift Shopping Centre .


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