Etailers will be breathing a sigh of relief this morning as the postal strikes have been called off until at least the New Year.

The TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the decision had been made to provide “a period of calm” in which the two sides could reach a long-term deal. He said that meant Royal Mail deliveries would be “free of any disruption” over Christmas.

The disagreement is far from over though and Royal Mail and the CWU will continue to talk over the next few weeks.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: “It’s important that both sides now keep talking about the next phase of modernisation which is vital for the company’s future.”

The move will mean etailers – such as Amazon, Asos and eBay – can gear up once again for Christmas. While many had put in place back up plans and switched to alternative delivery operators, some said they had been hit by the strikes as customers did not believe deliveries and returns would get through the system.