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U.S. parcel volume grows in 2021

The amount of parcels shipped continued increasing during 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic continued affecting the U.S. shipping and logistics industries in 2021.

According to the latest Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, U.S. parcel volume grew six percent in 2021 reaching a record high of 21.5 billion, up from 20.3 billion in 2020. Carrier revenues exceeded all previous years’ figures, totaling $188 billion, an increase of 16% from $163 billion in 2020.

[Read more: Study: Global parcel volume tops 130 billion in 2020]

The latest Index shows 59 million parcels were generated in the U.S. each day in 2021, totaling around 683 parcels per second, compared to 56 million shipped daily in 2020. Per capita parcel volume for the U.S. rose from 62 to 65. For the first time, the Parcel Shipping Index includes a “per household” figure, revealing an average of 166 parcels shipped per US household during 2021.

Key takeaways from the latest Index include:

  • By volume, USPS shipped 6.9 billion parcels in 2021, down from 7.3 billion in 2020; UPS shipped 5.3 billion parcels in 2021, up from 4.9 billion; and FedEx shipped 4.2 billion, up from 3.7 billion.
  • The combined parcel volume from smaller carriers outside those top four grew by 94%.
  • Carriers collectively generated $188 billion in parcel revenue, a 16% increase year-over-year from $163 billion.
  • UPS generated the highest carrier revenue with $70 billion, followed by FedEx ($62 billion), USPS ($31.5 billion), and Amazon Logistics ($22 billion); with the combined revenue from other carriers reaching $3 billion.
  • “'Other” carriers grew their revenue by 95%.
  • UPS generated a 16% increase in revenue year-over-year, FedEx had 21% growth, and USPS revenue was flat.
  • By revenue, UPS generated the highest parcel market share of 37%, followed by FedEx (33%), USPS (17%), and Amazon Logistics (12%).
  • By volume, USPS had the highest market share (32%, down from 36% in 2020), followed by UPS (24%, the same as in 2020), Amazon Logistics (22%, up from 21%) and FedEx (19%, up from 18%).
  • Parcels generated by Amazon reached 8.4 billion in 2021, of which 57% or 4.8 billion parcels were delivered by Amazon Logistics and 43% or 3.6 billion parcels were passed to carriers for last-mile delivery. In 2020, Amazon passed 2.8 billion parcels to carriers for last-mile delivery

Almost one in four (23%) U.S. shoppers polled by Pitney Bowes in April 2022 said they are shopping online more than they did earlier in 2022. Around 37 percent of all U.S. purchases made are online. Pitney Bowes forecasts U.S. parcel volume by 2027 to reach 25 - 40 billion packages, with a 5% - 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2022-2027.

“Last year saw the industry rocked by outside influences as carriers continued to manage the impact of the pandemic,” said Jason Dies, executive VP and president, Sending Technology Solutions, Pitney Bowes. “Despite these challenges, carrier revenues and parcel volumes reached a record high, showcasing the resiliency of the U.S. consumer and the industry’s ability to absorb their growing appetite for internet retail.”

Now in its seventh year, 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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