Pitney Bowes report shows global growth of parcel industry

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Global e-commerce, shipping, mailing, data and financial services technology company Pitney Bowes has released its latest Parcel Shipping Index report, which found that global parcel volume surpassed 100 billion in 2019, reaching 103 billion.

The Parcel Shipping Index measures volume and spend for business-to-business, business-to-consumer, consumer-to-business and consumer-consigned shipments with weight up to 31.5 kg (70 lb) in 13 major markets, representing 3.8 billion people in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, China, Japan, Australia and India.

Other highlights from the annual report include that more than three of every five parcels shipped in the world’s major markets are generated by China, while over 3,000 parcels were shipped every second in 2019, in the world’s 13 major markets.

The report forecasts parcel volume is likely to more than double and reach 220-262 billion parcels by 2026, with a 14.8% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) for 2020-2024. Due to increased uncertainty fueled by the global pandemic, the forecast provides a range that shows volumes could be as low as 200 billion or as high as 316 billion parcels in six years.

The Index also highlights the advance of Amazon Logistics as a major market player, delivering 1.9 billion packages in the USA alone through its in-house delivery network, showing 155% parcel volume growth in 2019 year-on-year and forecasting its CAGR at 30% from 2020-2024.

Amazon Logistics has been rapidly increasing its delivery capacity in the USA and expects to compete for external business with traditional carriers. This effort has been stalled somewhat in 2020 due to Covid-19 and the significant increase in Amazon’s own shopping volume. Amazon’s overall US parcel volume (including Amazon Logistics Network and parcels given to USPS and other carriers) increased by 22% year-on-year.

Key findings from the latest Shipping Index include:

  • China extended its global lead in parcel volume, with 63 billion parcels and growth of 26% year-on-year, although this growth has declined from the 48-61% growth seen from 2012-16. A CAGR of 38% was reached from 2013-2019. China’s parcel volume is more than four times that of the USA, its nearest country in terms of volume.
  • United States ranks highest in the Index for parcel shipping revenue at US$130bn. Amazon Logistics is growing in influence and market share, emerging as a major player in the logistics market in the USA, reflecting its influence in countries such as the UK.
  • Norway sees the second highest year-on-year growth rate in the Index with a 24% increase in parcel volume from 2018, with a parcel volume of 80 million, driven largely by the maturing of the e-commerce market.
  • Italy had the fourth highest year-on-year parcel volume growth with a 14.8% increase in parcel volume from 2018, reaching nearly one billion parcels.
  • Brazil sees a 15% increase in year-on-year parcel volume from 2018-19.
  • India is experiencing a CAGR of 22% in parcel volume 2013-19 and year-on-year growth of 19%.
  • Japan was the only country to show a decline in parcel volume at -3%, in line with last year’s decline of -2.7% year-on-year, although carriers are seeing a slight increase in revenue.
  • The UK saw 57 parcels per capita compared with 48 in 2017, the highest per capita increase over the past two years.

Jason Dies, EVP and vice president, Sending Technology Solutions, commented, “While parcel volumes keep rising, carriers are racing to keep up with competition and with consumer demand, delivering innovative new customer experiences, digitalizing technologies and investing in infrastructure, all while generating sustainable revenues.

“Although we won’t document the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the industry until next year’s report, in April alone the USPS noted a 60% rise in parcel volume across the USA. Our Index has a track record of accurate forecasting, and our adjusted forecasts of parcel volume reaching 220-262 billion by 2026 demonstrate the phenomenal growth expected across the industry”.

Key Shipping Index Findings by Region

Americas (United States, Brazil, Canada)

  • United States generated US$130bn in parcel revenue, the highest of all 13 countries studied and an increase of 11% year-on-year. The market shipped 14.7 billion parcels, up from 13.2 billion in 2018. Amazon Logistics volume is included in both years, having delivered 1.9 billion packages in the USA alone through its in-house delivery network, with a CAGR forecasted at 22% to 2023.
  • Brazil’s parcel volume grew 15% year-on-year, with volume reaching 850 million parcels – an average CAGR from 2014-19 of 10.5%.
  • Canada’s parcel shipments reached 1.1 billion, up 8% from the year prior.

Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden and United Kingdom)

  • France saw parcel volumes reach 1.34 billion and a CAGR of 5% from 2013-19.
  • Germany generated 3.7 billion parcel shipments in 2019. Germany has the largest B2B sector in Europe, comprising around 65% of its overall market value. It was the only market where revenue in US dollars declined, by a marginal 0.2% year-on-year.
  • Italy reached 990 million parcels shipped in 2019, 15% growth since the previous year.
  • Norway saw parcel volumes increase by 24% since 2018. Parcel shipments reached 80 million and revenue increased by 20.5% year-over-year.
  • Sweden saw 6.2% growth in parcel volumes since the previous year, reaching 135 million in 2019.
  • UK parcel shipments generated US$16.1bn in revenue and reached 3.8 billion parcels, a 7% increase in both parcel volume and revenue since 2018.

Asia Pacific (Australia, China, India, Japan)

  • Australia shipped 934 million parcels, an increase of 8% year-on-year.
  • China’s parcel volume reached 63.5 billion in 2019, up from 51 billion in 2018 and 40 billion in 2017.
  • India’s parcel volumes have increased steadily since 2013 to 2.8 billion, with a CAGR since 2013 of 22% – one of the highest rates of volume growth in the Index.
  • Japan’s parcel volume, nine billion, declined by 3% from the previous year. Revenue increased by 5% to US$31.5bn.
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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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