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Global parcel volumes could reach 132 billion this year: Pitney Bowes

Market cracked 100 billion barrier in 2019 for first time, index finds

A UPS preload processing line with parcels being loaded for delivery (Photo: UPS)

Small-package volumes in the world’s 13 major markets during 2020 will range between 115 billion and 132 billion in 2020 after cracking the 100 billion barrier for the first time in 2019, technology and e-commerce provider Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE:PBI) said Monday in its fifth-annual parcel shipping index.

Global parcel traffic could surge to 316 billion packages per year by 2026 depending on the level of e-commerce activity in a post-COVID-19 world, the Stamford, Connecticut-based company forecast. That, admittedly, is the high end. A more realistic forecast comes in at a range of 220 billion to 226 billion parcels by 2026. Still, that represents a 14.6% compounded annual growth rate over the next four years, a sustained level of growth few industries are likely to match over that period.

At the low end of the 2026 forecast, annual volumes will reach 200 billion, Pitney Bowes said. For the first time in its history, the index was published with a forecast range rather than with specific numbers. The change reflects the unprecedented lack of clarity over future parcel growth spawned by the global pandemic, the company said.

The global market in 2019 totaled 103 billion parcels, according to the index. China was the dominant player, with 63% of all parcels originating there. The U.S. generated $130 billion in parcel revenue, the highest among the 13 countries. Amazon Logistics, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) shipping operation, delivered 1.9 billion domestic packages in its own network in 2019, a 155% year-over-year increase based on the data. Amazon’s delivery network will grow by 30%, compounded annually, from 2020 through 2024, the report predicted.

After backing out China, where volumes increased in 2019 by 26%, the global market grew by 6.7%, according to the index. Norway showed the second-highest percentage gain behind China, clocking in at a 24% gain based on the data.

On average, 3,248 parcels were shipped each second, an amount equal to 27 parcels shipped per person, according to the report. The 13 countries represented have a combined population of 3.8 billion people.

Every country reported volume gains except Japan, while every country posted revenue gains except for Germany, where revenue declined fractionally, the index found.

The index is compiled using a combination of proprietary and publicly available information. It focuses on the market for parcels weighing up to 70 pounds, the top end of the “small-package” segment. It does not cover the faster-growing, albeit smaller, market for deliveries of big-and-bulky goods ordered both online and from stores.

Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.