Seven years ago, we had the idea of sharing the insights generated by our talented market intelligence team, in the form of the Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index. Since then, the report has become a highly-valued source of data, holding a lens to the shipping industry.
The latest Index is perhaps the most widely-anticipated of all. 2021 was a pivotal time for the parcel shipping industry, still experiencing the aftershocks of 2020 while entering new periods of turbulence. Rising costs, supply chain disruption and labor shortages continued to obstruct carriers’ ability to manage increasing parcel volumes and deliver against growing consumer demand.
The latest Index finds:
- Over 159 billion parcels were shipped across the 13 markets tracked in the Index in 2021, equating to around 5000 parcels every second or 436 million each day. This is a 21% increase from the 103 billion parcels generated in 2020.
- On average, 41 parcels were shipped for each member of the population within the 13 countries in the Index, equating to around 137 per household.
- Carrier revenue grew in 2021 across all countries except for Japan, with year-over-year carrier revenue growth particularly high in India at 32% and Sweden at 38%.
- China was the first country in the history of the Index to exceed 100 billion parcels generated in one year. Something we forecasted in last year’s Index.
One industry trend we’re seeing is retailers augmenting their supply chain networks to provide faster delivery services. In 2021, Amazon, Walmart and Target expanded footprints to reach more homes and tackle shipping delays. And the trend continues, in May of this year, Pitney Bowes partnered with Quiet Platforms, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Eagle Outfitters Inc. to enable faster delivery services and logistics capabilities for their in-network retail clients and brands.
Merchants are also diversifying their carriers to mitigate risk as uncertainty and fluctuating shipping prices continue to put pressure on them to maintain margins and keep up with consumer demand.
At Pitney Bowes, combining data from the Index with our own customer insight has given us a unique viewpoint; a perspective which fuels our shipping and mailing product innovation and shapes the customer experience we deliver. It also helps us support hundreds of thousands of businesses across the world, so they face the future with confidence, despite the bumps in the road.
Everyone wants to know: Are parcel volumes in decline?
Over the last five years global parcel volume has increased at an unprecedented rate of 20.5%. Despite market uncertainties, the Index forecasts that by 2024 global parcel volume is likely to double the pre-pandemic level of 2019, from 104 billion parcels in 2019 to 205 billion parcels in 2024.
An economic slowdown and soaring inflation suggest a deceleration in parcel volume growth rates in the next five years, with parcel volume expected to grow at between 5.5% and 11.5% from 2022 to 2027. There's a lot of uncertainty with regards to the future of commerce and volume is something we’ll continue to track closely and will have more insights in next year’s Index.
The Parcel Shipping Index has become a barometer for our industry. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy creating it.
The Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index measures parcel volume and spend for business-to-business, business-to-consumer, consumer-to-business and consumer consigned shipments with weight up to 31.5kg (70 pounds). It tracks data for Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Index represents the parcel shipping activity of 3.8 billion people across these markets.
The Parcel Shipping Index is an example of research Pitney Bowes conducts annually to provide insight and forecasts on the shipping and logistics industry. Pitney Bowes also conducts BOXpoll™ a series of weekly consumer surveys in partnership with Morning Consult. Please visit www.pitneybowes.com/boxpoll for the latest BOXpoll findings.