Parcel shipping is a booming business, relying on e-commerce shoppers for increased volume and revenues. While the coronavirus pandemic brought about another boost for global parcel volumes, figures by mailing services company Pitney Bowes suggest that growth in the sector already followed a steep trajectory previously.
The reason for the continued steep growth is the dominance of China in parcel shipping volumes. 108 billion parcels, more than two thirds of the global total, are currently shipped in China. The country's e-commerce sector has been expanding rapidly even before the pandemic and continued to do so during the global health crisis.
Other countries did in fact see a pandemic boost in shipping volumes. In the U.S., 17 percent more parcels were shipped in 2019 than in 2018. Between 2019 and 2020, that increase was 37 percent, before subsiding again to +9 percent between 2020 and 2021. A similar effects was visible in the UK, where a previous annual growth of 11 percent increased to 32 percent in 2020. UK shipping volumes grew by 8 percent last year. Japan, a country with a shrinking population, has seen parcel shipments stagnate for a while before they finally decreased by 1 percent in 2021.
There were 159 billion parcels shipped worldwide in 2021, according to Pitney Bowes. The figure more than tripled in the past seven years. China was the biggest market for parcel volumes, while the United States remained the largest by parcel spend ($188 billion of $491 billion globally). The world's three biggest markets - China, the U.S. and Japan - accounted for 87 percent of global parcel volumes in 2021.
This data includes parcels that were shipped from business-to-business, business-to-consumer, consumer-to-business and consumer consigned shipments with weights up to 31.5 kg (70 pounds).