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Pandemic Shifts Postal Sector's Transformation

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the trend of post's moving away from mail and toward parcels, the Universal Postal Union's latest Postal Economic Outlook finds. This has led to higher-than-expected operating revenues, especially in developing countries, but also increased expenditures. The outlook finds that letter post volumes plunged by 13.6 percent in 2020 compared with the five-year period from 2015-2020, which saw a 4.6 percent. International mail dropped 27.6% in 2020 compared with the five-year trend of -4.3%. Domestic parcels grew by 17.7%, compared with the five-year trend of 15.2 percent. This has had a mixed impact on operating revenues.

Competition in the parcels business is strong. Designated operators have 32 percent market share based on a sample of 86 operators. However, half have less than 25 percent.

One key challenge of the pandemic for posts has been the loss of airlift. Airlines offered 50 percent fewer seats, more postal items were stranded, and international mail saw monthly tonnage of between -16 percent and -33 percent following the onset of the pandemic. The World Bank indicates the global economy in 2021 will likely grow 5.6 percent with a growth rate of -3.5 percent for 2020.

See more of the latest postal statistics in the Postal Economic Outlook.


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