Ofcom – Addressed letter volumes still falling

According to OfCom’s annual Communications Report that was released today, addressed letter volumes continued to fall in 2015, but also that they fell at a faster rate than they did in 2014.

2015’s volumes fell by 3.7% to 12.2 billion. Addressed letter revenues also fell by 2% to £4.2 billion.

OfCom released a number of other statistics pointing to the failing health of the market:

23% of adults say that they are sending fewer items of post than two years ago

21% of adults say that they have sent no post in the last month; and in the 16-34 age bracket, this figure rises to 31%

Nearly half of UK adults (47%) say that they only use post if there is no alternative.

The report showed just how important direct mail as well as other business related products are to Royal Mail and its rivals.

“Three-quarters of letter revenue comes from business and marketing mail, and less than a tenth from personal letters,” said the Ofcom report. “The proportions of letter revenue by application have remained fairly stable for a number of years. Business mail, which is primarily made up of transactional mail such as bills or statements, accounts for nearly half (49%) of all letter revenue. Marketing mail, which includes addressed advertising, accounts for 26% of all letter revenue.”

Of the total 12.2bn addressed letters, the volume handled end-to-end by Royal Mail fell by 7% to 5.1bn items. Access volumes increased slightly and remain at around 7.1bn items. “This small increase,” said Ofcom, “is likely to be driven primarily by the return of some of Whist’s end-to-end volumes to the access market following its exit from the end-to-end letter delivery sector in June 2015.”

In its review of the parcel sector, Ofcom  – to no one’s surprise – identified the growth in online shopping as the key driver. Ofcom passed on the information that: “Royal Mail estimates that the total blended market of parcels will grow at 4% per year in the medium term, and that its returns volumes have grown by 24% in the past year.”

The Ofcom report also highlighted the growing consumer appetite for same-day, within-the-hour and scheduled home deliveries, as well as the of parcel lockers and parcel stores for Click and Collect items.