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Online Shoppers Behind 2021’s 21.5 Billion Package Surge

The latest Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, released Monday, revealed the continuing impact of the pandemic on the shipping and logistics industries.

U.S. parcel volume grew 6 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, reaching $188 billion, a 16 percent increase from $163 billion in 2020.

Pitney Bowes forecasts U.S. parcel volume will reach 25 billion to 40 billion by 2027, with a 5 percent to 10 percent compounded annual growth revenue (CAGR).

The index shows 59 million parcels were generated in the United States each day in 2021, or 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 U.S. household during 2021.

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

Dies noted that the Index also showed that smaller carriers are gaining momentum. With “nimble, innovative and laser-targeted on delivering a great customer experience with competitive pricing and delivery capabilities,” these firms collectively doubled parcel volume and revenue in 2021.

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Additional findings from the index included 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.

UPS generated the highest carrier revenue with $70 billion, followed by FedEx at $62 billion, USPS with $31.5 billion and Amazon Logistics at $22 billion. UPS generated a 16 percent increase in revenue year-over-year, FedEx 21 percent growth and USPS revenue was flat.

Bu revenue, UPS generated the highest parcel market share of 37 percent followed by FedEx at 33 percent, USPS with 17 percent and Amazon Logistics at 12 percent. By volume, USPS had the highest market share–32 percent, down from 36 percent in 2020–followed by UPS at 24 percent, the same as in 2020; Amazon Logistics with 22 percent, up from 21 percent, and FedEx at 19 percent, up from 18 percent.

Amazon Logistics grew revenue to $22 billion, a 19 percent increase year-over-year. Parcel volume growth slowed to 13 percent from 4.2 billion to 4.8 billion. In 2020, growth was 112 percent.

Parcels generated by Amazon reached 8.4 billion in 2021, of which 57 percent or 4.8 billion parcels were delivered by Amazon Logistics and 43 percent 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.

Consumers’ online shopping behaviors continue to impact parcel volumes and carrier revenues, as some buying habits and preferences established during the pandemic remain firmly in place. BOXpoll by Pitney Bowes, the consumer survey on current events, culture and e-commerce logistics, found 23 percent of U.S. shoppers polled in April said they are shopping online more than they did earlier in the year, with around 37 percent of all purchases made are online.

The global Pitney Bowes Shipping Index, which includes data from 13 countries, will be launched later this year, with data for the remaining 12 countries in the Index–Canada, Brazil, Germany, the U.K., France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, China, Japan, Australia and India. The decision to release U.S. data earlier was made to meet high market demand.