E-commerce keeping postal sector afloat during tough economic times – UN

2 April 2009 – Thanks to e-commerce, the postal sector has largely been able to stave off the slump wreaked on the global economy by the current financial crisis, the United Nations Universal Postal Union (UPU) said today.

Postal operators, especially in the letter-post and express business segments, have been feeling the pinch, but that has been tempered by growth recorded in financial services, the agency said during a high-level gathering at its Berne, Switzerland, headquarters on the impact of the financial turmoil on the sector.

Worldwide, the industry employs nearly 6 million people and operates 660,000 post offices, making it one of the largest workforces and the most vast physical distribution network.

A survey of the world’s 15 largest posts and private courier companies found that some European operators, including Swiss Post and Deutsche Post, have experienced stunning growth rates of more than 50 per cent in the number of postal deposits and savings accounts opened last year, similar to figures recorded during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

However, the news was not as positive for the domestic letter post, which has felt the brunt of the crisis, with a 5 per cent contraction in volume in the last quarter of 2008, due in part to less direct mail, especially by the financial sector.

The postal industry has yet to reach the levels of revenue decreases reported during the Great Depression in the United States, when revenues plummeted over 12 per cent. During that period, postal savings account deposits multiplied eight-fold in the country, reaching more than $1 billion.

During the Depression, postage revenues dropped nearly one-quarter in France and nearly 17 per cent in Germany, the UPU said.


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