Firms are hoping to cash in on plans to close Royal Mail parcel collection depots across Scotland for four days this Christmas.

Scots will be unable to pick up presents that do not make it before December 25, which falls on a Friday this year, until the following Tuesday.

There will be no parcel or letter deliveries either over the festive long weekend.

The situation has arisen because Boxing Day this year is on a Saturday.

The day is therefore not a public holiday, although Royal Mail has been given an exemption by regulators to give many of its staff the day off.

The public holiday for Boxing Day is due to fall on the following Monday, so thousands of Scots could be forced to wait until the Tuesday to pick up their gifts, a whole four days after Christmas.

There won’t be any post the following weekend, either, as January 2, again normally a public holiday in Scotland, also falls on a Saturday.

Royal Mail say that they always warn customers to post gifts and important Christmas cards and letters early to ensure they reach their destination by December 25.

But some gift companies are hoping to appeal to customers worried that their present could be left languishing in a collection depot this Christmas period.

One, sells presents whose dimensions, including wrapping, are designed to fit through 99 per cent of Scottish letterboxes.

Markus Polleichtner and Liza Mirelman, its co-founders, said that the service could be especially useful in rural parts of Scotland where people sometimes have to travel miles to pick up packages.

All gifts measure less than 7 inches by 1.4 inches including packaging, to make the process of delivering gifts "more simple, and without the worries of 'will it arrive on time?", Mr Polleichtner said.

Meanwhile Edinburgh-based activity firm Gift Experience Scotland warns customers that while it can send gift vouchers to them in the post they may want to download them on to their own computers over the busy Christmas period, to avoid any potential delays.

Royal Mail has been similar exemptions over Christmas in previous years when Boxing Day has fallen on a Saturday.

However, the online retail market has mushroomed significantly since then following an explosion in the online shopping market.

Last December Royal Mail alone delivered around 120m parcels across the UK.

A spokesman for the Royal Mail said that Christmas was the “busiest time” of the year.

He said: “As we always do at this time of the year, we encourage people to post their Christmas cards and order their presents online early to help us spread the workload during the busy festive period.”

He added that many delivery offices would remain open until 5 pm on Christmas Eve to allow for last-minute parcel collection.

This year the Royal Mail’s latest recommended posting dates for mail to arrive in time for Christmas are Monday December 21, for first class deliveries, and Wednesday, December 23, for special delivery.

* A temporary parcel-sorting centre to deal with the busy Christmas period is being opened by Royal Mail, with jobs for 348 seasonal workers.

The centre in Bathgate, West Lothian, is part of another nine being set up across the UK to help staff cope with the expected festive rush.

They will sort a large number of the parcels Royal Mail handles before they are distributed around the UK for delivery.

The centres are set to open on a phased basis from Monday.