Royal Mail posts fewer parcels as shops reopen but volumes are still 35% higher than pre-pandemic levels
Royal Mail has been hit by a drop in parcel volumes since lockdowns started to ease, but says shopping habits have been permanently changed by Covid-19.
The postal service said the number of packages sent in the UK during April, May and June was down by 7 per cent compared with last year.
But against the same period in 2019, the figure was up by 35 per cent – an early sign that the surge in internet shopping during the pandemic could prove to be lasting.
Royal Mail said the number of packages sent in the UK during April, May and June was down by 7 per cent compared to last year, but still up 35 per cent against the same period in 2019
Ecommerce sales went into overdrive during 2020 as lockdown restrictions forced bricks-and-mortar shops to close, pushing shoppers online.
That handed a huge boost to parcel delivery services such as Royal Mail, which enjoyed the busiest Christmas in its 500-year history.
It also helped cushion a years-long reduction in letter volumes, with the company now getting a bigger share of revenues from parcels for the first time.
On top of this, it was awarded a contract reportedly worth £550million to deliver Covid tests for the NHS.
The firm predicted ‘fluctuations’ in parcel numbers in the coming months but said online shopping had so far continued ‘at a higher level than pre-Covid’ during the three months to June.
This included the period after ‘non-essential’ High Street shops were allowed to reopen in April.
Royal Mail said it handled 326m parcels in the UK during the three months to June 30.
That compared with 427m during the same period in 2020 and 310m in 2019.
Some 1.98bn letters were sent, up from 1.6bn in 2020 and down from 2.4bn in 2019.
Letter volumes plunged last year as struggling companies initially slashed spending on advertising to save cash.
Meanwhile, at international parcels arm GLS, 216m parcels were sent in the first quarter compared with 195m in 2020 and 160m in 2019.
Overall, total revenues at Royal Mail increased by 12.2 per cent.