Posts see continued post-Covid-19 growth, IPC finds

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The International Post Corporation (IPC) Postal Industry Report 2022 Key Findings has reported that the postal industry has benefited from the world’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, with the industry returning to pre-2019 growth trends in 2021 due primaraily to continued e-commerce expansion.

On aggregate, total postal industry revenue reached €465.6bn (US$491bn) in 2021, up €25.3bn (US$26.7bn) on 2020 results. Posts saw revenue growth of 3.9% on average, twice as high as the 2020 growth rate of 1.9%. The continued uplift in e-commerce, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, was the engine of industry growth as increasing volumes saw parcel revenue rise €13.6bn (US$14.3bn). Meanwhile, industry mail revenue recovered, increasing €1bn (US$1bn), with rate increases and business mail demand supporting improved performance for some large posts. However, with volumes continuing to drop for most posts, mail division revenue continued to fall on average.

The research also found that parcel revenue continued to increase, despite the slowing volume growth. Persisting Covid-19 pandemic restrictions in 2021 caused temporary surges in posts’ volumes. Sustained, although slower, demand for online delivery continued to drive performance for posts’ parcels divisions. Revenue was up 17.0% on average and parcels now represent the majority of revenue for a fifth of posts.

The report revealed that as business, retail and hospitality sectors reopened in 2021, posts saw a partial bounce back in mail demand that helped slow volume declines. Nevertheless, digitalization and e-substitution continued to impact the sector and mail volumes fell by 6.9% on average. Despite the economic recovery, more than three-quarters of posts delivered fewer items in 2021 than in 2020, with a quarter seeing volumes drop by more than 10% in the year.

The war in Ukraine coupled with increases in energy prices and the cost of living was found to directly impact e-commerce growth in the first half of 2022. At the same time, posts also faced increased costs. On average, and across the subset of posts that publish interim reports, group revenue was down 1.5% compared to the first half of 2021, which was marked by strong growth since the Covid-19 pandemic. Positive performance in the corresponding period in 2021, as well as economic uncertainty, saw mail divisions return to pre-2019 trends – mail volumes fell 4.9% on average, driving down revenue.

Holger Winklbauer, CEO of IPC, stated, “Posts around the world have continued to benefit from e-commerce growth linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, preliminary results for 2022 show the impact of energy crisis and inflation.”

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