Postal services in Europe - statistics & facts

History and evolution of postal services

Estimated origins of letter mail services date presumably to the invention of writing. Until the emergence of the telegraph in 1850, for many centuries letter mail was the only way of communication to a distant place. Through postal services, people from distant places could attain current information on personal, political, economic and many other issues. Thus, letter mail services shaped the way humans interacted by allowing people to talk from distant places as the hallmark of interpersonal communication. This had an indirect impact on strengthening economic coordination of many economies worldwide. For example, in 2018, industrialized countries held the highest share of the letter post traffic across the world. Only a very small portion of total letter traffic globally occurred in non-industrialized countries. This wide difference could be explained mostly because of the well-advanced postal systems in developed countries that contributed to better economic coordination throughout many years. For instance, Germany, France and the United Kingdom were the three leading countries in Europe for domestic letter mail traffic in 2018. These countries comprised more than two-thirds of the entire European domestic letter mail traffic.

Challenges of postal services in Europe

Mail services offer some advantages such as, official letters, postal voting, and many other services that would be close to impossible to implement online at the moment. Nonetheless, people prefer comfortable means of communication and letter mail is not the most convenient way of communicating in the 21st century. The letter services deliver information to the receiver at a very low speed and sometimes mail letters get lost in the process. Besides, the advancements made in electronic mailing immensely reduces the demand for letter mail. Therefore, the turnover generated from the provision of domestic postal services in Europe declined almost two times over the recent two decades, down to 30.9 billion euros in 2018. Furthermore, the number of postal offices and agencies in Europe experienced a somewhat V-shape decline and recovery between 2004 and 2018. By 2018, this number reached its apex - there were over 176,000 postal offices and agencies across European countries. A major contributor to this increase could be the surging demand for parcel and courier services in Europe.

Postal service providers in Europe

Across Europe, each country has one dominant company providing postal services as an oligopoly or in many instances monopoly. For instance, in 32 European countries, there were roughly 34 enterprises providing postal services in 2018. Holding a strong market position in postal services somewhat reduces the involvement of enterprises in developing innovative approaches to market challenges. This creates somewhat disincentive for dominant firms in the market and reduces the social welfare in the long-run. In addition to that, the demand for traditional letter mail services declines continuously in all countries even if international connectivity increases. Yet, these companies still facilitate a huge economic and social activity. Some of the most known national postal service firms in Europe are Deutsche Post, La Poste, Royal Mail or PostNL.

Interesting statistics

In the following 3 chapters, you will quickly find the 24 most important statistics relating to "Postal services in Europe".

Statistics on the topic
Postal services market in Europe

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