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103 Billion Packages Shipped Last Year—and That’s Set to Double by 2026

The latest Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index found that global parcel volume reached a record 103 billion in 2019, with more than 60 percent of parcels shipped in the world’s major markets generated by China.

The report’s forecast expects parcel volume to more than double and reach 220 to 262 billion parcels by 2026. Due to increased uncertainty fueled by the global pandemic, the forecast provides a range that shows volumes could be as low as 200 billion or as high as 316 billion parcels in six years.

The index also highlights the advance of Amazon Logistics as a major market player, delivering 1.9 billion packages in the U.S. alone through its in-house delivery network, showing 155 percent parcel volume growth in 2019 year-over-year and forecasting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30 percent from 2020-2024.

Amazon Logistics has been rapidly increasing its delivery capacity in the U.S. and expects to compete for external business with traditional carriers. This effort has been stalled somewhat in 2020 driven by Covid-19 and the significant increase in Amazon’s own shipping volume. Amazon’s overall U.S. parcel volume, including Amazon Logistics Network and parcels given to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and other carriers, increased 22 percent year-over-year.

The Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index measures volume and spend for business-to-business, business-to-consumer, consumer-to-business and consumer-consigned shipments weighing up to 70 pounds 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.

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The latest report reveals growth of 17.7 percent in 2019, in line with the 17 percent to 28 percent growth projection range given in previous Parcel Shipping Index reports. On average, 3,248 parcels were shipped every second in 2019 in the world’s 13 major markets, equating to an average of 27 parcels shipped per person.

China remained the strongest influence on the market with 63.5 billion parcels shipped in 2019 and an increase of 26 percent in parcel volume year-over-year. Excluding China, parcel volume increased by 6.7 percent, from 37 billion in 2018 to 39 billion in 2019. Global parcel revenue increased 9 percent year-over-year from $323 billion in 2018 to $351 billion in 2019, at a CAGR of 11 percent during 2013-19.

While all countries except Japan saw steady growth in parcel volume, the impact of emerging and maturing e-commerce markets is reflected in the figures. Norway’s percentage increase in parcel volume is second only to China’s, with the European country shipping 80 million parcels compared to the previous year’s 60 million. India has the third-highest percentage increase, with growth of 19 percent in parcel volume, shipping 2.8 billion parcels and reaching a CAGR of 22 percent since 2013.

All markets reported an increase in carrier revenue growth year-over-year, with the exception of Germany, which saw a slight decline, largely driven by currency exchange rates as carrier revenue growth in euros in Germany was positive at 5.2 percent, the report noted.

“As parcel volumes rise, carriers continue to find innovative ways to expand their networks and improve the customer experience in increasingly competitive markets,” the report said.

The United States ranked highest in the index for parcel shipping revenue at $130 billion, an increase of 11 percent year-over-year. The market shipped 14.7 billion parcels, up from 13.2 billion in 2018.

“As we mark Pitney Bowes’ 100th anniversary, this year’s milestone of global parcel volume surpassing 100 billion parcels seems particularly serendipitous,” said Jason Dies, executive vice president of Oitney Bowes and vice president of sending technology solutions. “While parcel volumes keep rising, carriers are racing to keep up with competition and with consumer demand, delivering innovative new customer experiences, digitalizing technologies and investing in infrastructure, all while generating sustainable revenues. Although we won’t document the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the industry until next year’s report, in April alone the USPS noted a 60 percent rise in parcel volume across the U.S. Our Index has a track record of accurate forecasting, and our adjusted forecasts of parcel volume reaching 220-262 billion by 2026 demonstrate the phenomenal growth expected across the industry.”

Brazil’s parcel volume grew 15 percent year-over-year, with volume reaching 850 million parcels, while Canada’s parcel shipments reached 1.1 billion, up 8 percent from the year prior. India’s parcel volume has increased steadily since 2013 to 2.8 billion, with a CAGR since 2013 of 22 percent–one of the highest rates of volume growth in the index.