To the surprise of nobody involved in final-mile logistics, U.S. parcel volume grew in 2021. According to the latest Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, volume grew by 6% in 2021, setting a record high of 21.5 billion, up from 20.3 billion from the year before.

The index, which usually comes out in fall but dropped early to what the company said was “widespread interest,” showed that carrier revenues also hit new heights totaling $188 billion, an increase of 16 percent from $163 billion in 2020.

And those upward trends for volume and costs should continue as Pitney Bowes forecasts U.S. parcel volume by 2027 to reach 25 to 40 billion, with a 5% to 10% CAGR from 2022-2027.

“Last year saw the industry rocked by outside influences as carriers continued to manage the impact of the pandemic,” said Jason Dies, EVP, and President Sending Technology Solutions, Pitney Bowes, in a press release. “Despite these challenges, carrier revenues and parcel volumes reached a record high, showcasing the resiliency of the U.S. consumer and the industry’s ability to absorb their growing appetite for internet retail.”

If the overall number of 21.5 billion doesn’t resonate, Pitney Bowes made sure to paint a picture by breaking that down by the second, day, per capita, and for the first time per U.S. household.

According to the study, 59 million parcels were generated daily in the U.S., breaking down to 683 parcels per second. That’s a jump of 3 million parcels per day. Per capita parcel volume for the U.S. rose from 62 to 65, or an average of 166 parcels shipped per U.S. household during 2021.

2021 Volume Breakdown Shows Growth of Smaller Carriers

Perhaps another interesting, although expected, is that the volume handled by smaller carriers outside the traditional national carriers grew by 94%.

This shift has come about from retailers and other shippers taking an omnichannel approach to their final-mile delivery, which has increased the number of regional, local and hyper-local carriers they have in their mix.

    • Parcel volume reached 21.5 billion in 2021, up from 20.3 billion in 2020, an increase of 6 percent
    • USPS shipped 6.9 billion parcels in 2021, down from 7.3 billion in 2020
    • UPS shipped 5.3 billion parcels in 2021, up from 4.9 billion
    • FedEx shipped 4.2 billion, up from 3.7 billion
    • The combined parcel volume from smaller carriers, included in the ‘Others’ category, grew by 94%

The volume of parcels flowing through the last mile is impressive. Carriers continue to feel the strain of a capacity crunch, limiting some shippers and charging others DIM fees for packages that aren’t packed efficiently. This is spurring shippers to continue to manage an extended network of carriers that continues to expand to keep up with consumer demand while trying to keep costs down.

Book your personalized demonstration of Transtream today to see how the multi-carrier parcel management solution can help you manage your expanding parcel volume and carrier network.