Ecommerce soared in the UK in 2020 with 5bn parcel movements from and within the country

Wed 29 Sept 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

ecommerce boom

British ecommerce continues to thrive with five billion parcels moved from and within Britain in 2020.

Research by technology company Pitney Bowes found that global parcel volume reached 131.2 billion in 2020, an increase of 27% annually in what it described as a “transformative year”.

Volume increased in the UK by 7% in 2019 before rising 33% in 2020. It is predicted that there will be up to six billion movements this year.

Top markets

The Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, reported in the Times, looked at 13 markets around the world.

Its other key findings include:

  • The top three markets by revenue generated by parcel movements were the US at $171.4 billion, China at $127.5 billion and Japan at $33.3bn
  • Together these markets represented 77% of global parcel revenue in 2020
  • China saw the highest compound annual growth (CAGR) for parcels between 2014-20 at 35%
  • China also saw the greatest CAGR in parcel revenue at 27%
  • The UK saw the highest increase in carrier revenue, up 37% year over year to $22.2bn
  • France generated the highest revenue per parcel at $9.3

Now fundamental

Jason Dies, EVP at Pitney Bowes, said:

“E-commerce has become fundamental to our lives, and the staggering parcel volume revealed in the latest Index reflects this.

“For the world’s carriers, as essential service providers 2020 was a transformative year which tested their investments in people, infrastructure and digital capabilities to the limit.”

UK growth

According to Apex Insight, the UK generated the highest parcels per capita in the index at 74, an increase from 56 in 2019. Revenue per parcel in the UK also increased for the first time since 2016, reaching £3.

According to the ONS, the proportion of online retail in the UK increased to record levels in January 2021, reaching 35.2%, up from 29.6% in December 2020.

This was far higher than the 19.5% in January 2020, reflecting the impact the pandemic has had on consumer behaviours. 

According to data from Credit Karma, reported in Reuters, about 70% of Brits say buying online and on mobile phones have become their preferred shopping methods, up from less than half prior to Covid.