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ACM’s Postal and Parcel Markets Scan: 43 million fewer parcels sent in 2022

In 2022, consumers and businesses sent 43 million fewer parcels than in 2021. Over the past few years, the number of parcels had gone up. As a result of the measures taken in the retail sector because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of parcels went up from 399 million in 2019 to 654 million in 2021. In 2022, the year in which the measures were phased out, the number of parcels went down by 6 percent. These are some of the conclusions of the 2022 Postal and Parcel Markets Scan (in Dutch), which was published today by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).

In 2022, businesses sent 31 million fewer parcels to consumers. The number of parcels sent between consumers decreased by 3 million, and the number of parcels sent between businesses decreased by 9 million.

Letterbox-sized parcels

Many online stores more and more often, because of costs and sustainability, opt for sending their products in letterbox-sized parcels as much as possible. As a result, the share of letterbox-sized parcels keeps on climbing. In 2022, the number of letterbox-sized parcels increased by 1 million. However, this increase is less substantial than it had been over the past few years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of letterbox-sized parcels doubled from 29 million in 2019 to 58 million in 2021. The vast majority of letterbox-sized parcels (86 percent) are parcels that are sent from businesses to consumers.

Delivery operators on the postal market

Different postal operators are active on the markets for business mail and parcels. The two largest operators for parcels (both from businesses as well as consumers) are PostNL and DHL, with market shares of approximately 55 percent and approximately 40 percent, respectively. Smaller postal operators have access to PostNL‘s postal network so they can still guarantee their customers nationwide coverage. In addition, PostNL is responsible for the basic set of postal services, the so-called universal service obligation (USO). This concerns, for example, all mail that consumers put in a dropbox and which is subsequently delivered to consumers’ homes.

Quality of mail delivery

ACM regularly receives reports from consumers regarding mail that was delivered too late or not delivered at all. That is why ACM in 2023 will launch an additional study into the quality of mail delivery. Consumers that did not receive a letter or a parcel can contact the sender for inquiries. Only the sender is able to ask the postal company to search for the missing mailpiece. More tips and information can be found on ACM’s consumer information portal, ConsuWijzer (in Dutch).

Statutory requirements are in place for a proper and on-time delivery of dropbox mail for consumers (USO mail). The postal service consists of processing (largely by hand) hundreds of millions of mailpieces each year. Somewhere along that process of collecting, sorting, and delivering, something will go wrong sometimes. That is why there is a statutory requirement that a minimum of 95 percent of all USO mail must be delivered on time. In 2019, the quality of postal delivery dropped below the minimum of 95 percent. In 2022, 91.4 percent of the dropbox mail was delivered on time. ACM thinks it is important that PostNL improves the quality of its postal service, and has been in touch with the company about this matter. ACM can take enforcement action, if necessary.


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