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Global Parcel Shipping Seen Doubling by 2026

The new Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, released Tuesday, estimates parcel volume could reach 232 billion to 303 billion by 2026, with the most likely outcome having parcel volume doubling in the next five years to reach 266 billion in 2026, with a 12 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2021 to 2025.

That’s after the index found global parcel volume reached 131.2 billion in 2020–equating to 4,160 parcels shipped per second–an increase of 27 percent year-over-year. The index, now in its sixth year, also revealed that 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. 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 this year. Last year was the first that U.S. parcel volume increased at a faster rate than China since the inception of the Shipping Index.

Carrier parcel revenue increased across all 13 countries surveyed in 2020, collectively reaching $429.5 billion, up 22 percent since 2019. The U.S. remained the market with the highest carrier revenue of all regions. Countries including the U.S., Brazil and Australia saw their more established carriers lose market share to competitors.

The latest Index introduces a new performance measure: revenue per parcel. Tracking this datapoint provides insight into carriers’ ability to respond profitably to changing market conditions.

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France generated the highest revenue per parcel in the report at $9.3. China’s revenue per parcel was the lowest at $1.5.

Additional key findings from the latest index include that the highest CAGR from 2014 to 2020 for parcel volume was generated by China at 35 percent followed by Brazil at 18 percent and India at 15 percent, while the highest CAGR in the period for parcel revenue was generated by China at 27 percent followed by India at 16 percent and U.S. and UK, both with 11 percent.

The top three markets by revenue–the U.S. at $171.4 billion, China at $127.5 billion and Japan at $33.3 billion–represented 77 percent of global parcel revenue in 2020. China remained the largest market in parcel volume, reaching 83.4 billion, up 31 percent 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 percent year over year. Brazil experienced the highest year-over-year parcel volume growth at 46 percent to 1.2 billion parcels, followed by the U.S. at 37 percent and U.K. at 33 percent.

Japan saw an increase in parcel volume for the first time in three years, with volume reaching 9.1 billion, up from 9 billion in 2019. India’s parcel volume decreased but carrier revenue continued to grow, reaching $4.5 billion, up from $4.4 billion the previous year. The U.K. saw the highest increase in carrier revenue, up 37 percent year over year to $22.2 billion.

E-commerce has become fundamental to our lives and the staggering parcel volume revealed in the latest Index reflects this,” Jason Dies, executive vice president of Pitney Bowes and president of its Sending Technology Solutions division, said. “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. The Parcel Shipping Index accurately tracks and compares their performance during one of the hardest years they’ve ever faced.”

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 70 pounds in 13 major markets, representing 3.8 billion people in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Germany, the U.K., France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, China, Japan, Australia and India.