As economic uncertainty replaces COVID-19 as the major challenge facing the postal industry, e-commerce and digitalisation continue to shift posts’ volume demands.

Amid an economic recovery in 2021, and as the worst effects of the pandemic began to fade, postal industry revenue grew by €25.3bn and reached €465.6bn. E-commerce fuelled the growth, as soaring B2C volumes and sector acquisitions saw parcel revenue rise €13.6bn. Mail revenue increased €1.0bn, with rate increases and a partial recovery in business mail volumes boosting performance for some posts. Across all posts, average revenue growth accelerated to 3.9%, up from 1.2% in 2020.

Stronger revenue performance, as well as increased network efficiency, helped posts offset rising staff and transport costs. More than half of posts reported an operating profit for 2021, with the average EBIT margin improving to 0.8%. Strong parcels demand boosted cash inflows, while industry capital expenditure fell in 2021; capex as a share of revenue dipped to 4.3% as many posts reduced capex intensity amid the pandemic and an uncertain outlook.

As e-substitution continued to drive down mail volumes, posts stepped up their efforts to diversify revenue: close to three quarters of posts’ income was derived from non-mail services in 2021. But diversification still varies widely across the industry: mail shares ranged from 9% to above 90% across posts, with highly diversified posts continuing to outperform their less-diversified peers on average.

Now in its fourteenth edition, this year’s IPC Global Postal Industry Report continues to take the pulse of the global postal industry. We analyse 53 posts from Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America, as well as non-postal carriers FedEx and UPS. And we continue our broad analytical coverage, from detailed performance comparisons across posts to tracking key market and industry trends.