Royal Mail sends fewer parcels as stores reopen

Royal Mail sends fewer parcels as stores reopen, but volumes are still 35% above pre-pandemic levels

Royal Mail has been hit by a drop in parcel volumes since lockdowns began to ease but says shopping behavior has been permanently altered by Covid-19.

The postal service said the number of parcels sent in the UK in April, May and June fell by 7 per cent compared to last year.

But compared to the same period in 2019, the figure was 35 percent higher – an early sign that the increase in internet purchases during the pandemic could be lasting.

Royal Mail said the number of parcels sent in the UK in April, May and June was 7 per cent lower than last year but still 35 per cent higher than the same period in 2019

E-commerce sales boomed in 2020 when lockdown restrictions forced brick-and-mortar stores to close, forcing shoppers online.

That gave a huge boost to parcel delivery services such as Royal Mail, which experienced the busiest Christmas in its 500-year history.

It also helped cushion a years-long decline in letter volume, with the company now deriving a larger portion of its revenue from parcels for the first time.

In addition, it was awarded a £550 million contract to provide Covid testing for the NHS.

The company predicted “fluctuations” in the number of packages in the coming months, but said online shopping had so far “remained at a higher level than before Covid” during the three months to June.

This included the period after ‘non-essential’ High Street stores were allowed to reopen in April.

Royal Mail said it handled 326 million parcels in the UK in the three months to 30 June.

That compares with 427 million in the same period in 2020 and 310 million in 2019.

About 1.98 billion letters were sent, up from 1.6 billion in 2020 and down from 2.4 billion in 2019.

Letters dropped last year as struggling companies initially cut their advertising spending to save money.

Meanwhile, the international parcel division GLS shipped 216 million parcels in the first quarter, compared to 195 million in 2020 and 160 million in 2019.

In all, Royal Mail’s total revenues increased by 12.2 percent.