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Study: Global parcel volume tops 130 billion in 2020

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The number of parcels shipped worldwide rose sharply in 2020, with expectations for continuing dramatic growth.

According to the new Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, featuring 2020 data from 13 major markets around the world, global parcel volume reached 131.2 billion in 2020. This equates to 4,160 parcels shipped per second, an increase of 27% year-over-year.

On average, each person around the globe generated 34 parcels during 2020. Looking ahead, the Index estimates parcel volume could reach 232 billion, or as high as 303 billion, by 2026. Pitney Bowes projects the most likely outcome is that parcel volume will double in the next five years to reach 266 billion in 2026, with an 11% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2021-26.

The Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, now in its sixth year, reveals parcel volume increased across all regions in 2020 with the exception of India. China remains the largest market by volume, with parcel numbers reaching 83.4 billion in 2020, or 2,643 parcels shipped every second.

Based on forecasts from Pitney Bowes, China is expected to become the first country in the Index to reach 100 billion parcels by volume in one year, which is likely to happen in 2021. 2020 was the first year in which US parcel volume increased at a faster rate than China since the inception of the Shipping Index.

Carrier parcel revenue increased across all 13 indexed countries in 2020, collectively reaching $429.5 billion, up 22% since 2019. The U.S. remains the market with the highest carrier revenue of all regions in the Index.

The latest Index introduces a new performance measure, revenue per parcel. France generated the highest revenue per parcel in the report at $9.3. China’s revenue per parcel was the lowest at $1.5.

Other key findings include:

  • Parcel revenue reached $429.5 billion, up 22% since 2019.
  • The top three markets by revenue were the U.S. at $171.4 billion, China at $127.5 billion and Japan at $33.3 billion, representing 77% of global parcel revenue in 2020.
  • China remains the largest market in terms of parcel volume, reaching 83.4 billion, up 31% from $63.5 billion, followed by the U.S. at $20.2 billion and Japan at $9.1 billion.
  • The U.S. remained the market with the highest carrier revenue, reaching $171.4 billion, an increase of 29% year-over-year.
  • Canada’s increase in revenue was one of the highest in the study at 29%, reaching $11.5 billion, up from $8.9 billion. Volume reached 1.6 billion, also up 29%.
  • The U.S. generated the highest carrier revenue in the Index, at $171.4 billion, an increase of 29%. Parcel volume rose by 37% to reach 20.2 billion. Parcels per capita reached 61 in 2020, up from 45 in the previous year. The rise of Amazon Logistics was most prominent in the U.S., as UPS’ and FedEx’s share of both parcel volume and revenue declined. Amazon Logistics generated 109% year-over-year revenue growth and 127% increase in parcel volume.

“For the world’s carriers, as essential service providers, 2020 was a transformative year which tested their investments in people, infrastructure and digital capabilities to the limit,” said Jason Dies, executive VP and president, Sending Technology Solutions, Pitney Bowes.

[Read more: Supply chain leaders take confident post-pandemic outlook]

The Pitney Bowes 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 lbs.) in 13 major markets, representing 3.8 billion people in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Germany, U.K., France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, China, Japan, Australia and India. It is based on proprietary and published data.

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