As lockdowns supercharged e-commerce and fast-tracked digital trends, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the structural shift from mail to parcels across the postal industry.

Amid the crisis, postal industry revenue grew by €20.5bn and reached €442.6bn in 2020. E-commerce fuelled the growth, as soaring B2C volumes saw parcel revenue rise €19.3bn. Mail revenue fell €6.1bn as lockdowns slowed business activity and accelerated e-substitution, with growth in other areas helping offset the fall. Across posts, average revenue growth slowed to 1.4%, down from 5.5% in 2019.

Meanwhile, social distancing measures and other pandemic-related challenges pressured profitability. Despite over half of posts reporting an operating profit, the average EBIT margin fell to -0.9% in 2020. As strong parcels demand boosted cash inflows, capital expenditure continued to trend upward; but capex as a share of revenue dipped to 4.6% as many posts reduced capex intensity amid the pandemic.

As the pandemic accelerated mail volume declines, posts stepped up their efforts to diversify revenue: less than three out of every ten euros earned by posts were derived from mail services in 2020. But diversification still varies widely across the industry: mail shares ranged from 11% to above 90% across posts, with highly diversified posts continuing to outperform their less-diversified peers on average.

Now in its thirteenth 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 integrators FedEx and UPS. And we continue our broad analytical coverage, from detailed performance comparisons across posts to tracking key market and industry trends.