Technology has allowed us to exchange information, images, and video more easily than ever before. Back when the internet was first taking off, many predicted that this would spell the end for traditional parcel delivery. But these predictions have been proven to be wrong: the global shipping industry is in ruder health than ever, thanks to the rise of online retailers, and of an increasingly interconnected global economy.
In Europe, two nations stand clearly ahead of the rest of the pack: the UK and Germany. Both countries shipped around 3.5 billion parcels in 2019, according to the Pitney Bowes Shipping Index. That was a 12.4% annual increase for the UK, where there are around fifty-three parcels shipping per capita each year, which is the second-highest number of any country in the world.
Both countries have extremely consolidating shipping industries, with a handful of major carriers accounting for a majority of parcels shipped. In the UK, customers can compare the various services on offer through comparison sites like Parcel2Go.
So where does that put the rest of Europe? France sits way behind, at just 1.3 billion parcels shipped per year, while Italy is way down at less than a billion. Norway and Sweden are down at 61 and 127 million respectively – which is far less than the major players, even after you account for their respective populations.
Where does the UK sit Globally?
All of this has to be judged, of course, against a global backdrop. Shipping has more than doubled over a five-year period going back from 2018 when eighty-seven billion parcels were shipped in a single year. That was a volume increase of 17% from the previous year’s total of seventy-four billion, and works out at around 2,760 parcels shipped every single second. Somewhat incredibly, this explosion in shipping has almost kept pace with the population growth; there were twelve parcels per person shipped in 2014, and twenty-three in 2018.
Three nations stand out as major players in the global shipping industry. These are China, the US and Japan, who collectively account for some 83% of global traffic. China, as you might expect, sits way ahead of the pack with an incredible 51 billion parcels shipped. The US comes in significantly behind, at 13 billion, and Japan just behind that at 9 billion. Japan accounts for the highest per-capita shipping frequency.
This trend shows no sign of abating in the future, and is likely to only accelerate as new markets emerge. The report indicates that shipping will likely double again over the next six years, with global parcel-shipping reaching an incredible 200 billion parcels.