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How many letters do Royal Mail deliver?

By Chris Dawson February 25, 2019 - 10:00 am

Due to an unfortunate pricing error, Royal Mail have answered the question “How many letters do Royal Mail deliver?”, revealing that they sell around six million 2nd Class stamps each week.

On Friday, Royal Mail announced their price increases for 2019, raising the price of both 1st and 2nd Class stamps by 3p. This puts the price of a 2nd Class stamp at 61p with the change due to kick in on Monday the 25th of March.

The problem is that the price of a basic stamp is regulated by OfCom and there’s a price cap set back in 2012 but which allows for inflation and the new price exceeded this. The overpriced stamps will only last a week as on the 1st of April the cap is due to rise to 65p and will rise at the rate of inflation for the next five years through to 2024.

In some ways this is a trival error as consumers will be charged more for stamps for just 7 days and only by about a penny per stamp. However rules are rules and OfCom will want to know how the mistake happened.

In order to redeem themselves, Royal Mail will be donating their overcharge to their nominated charity – Action for Children, which helps disadvantaged children across the UK. They expect to donate around £60,000.

As a consumer, whilst you may think it’s a lovely charity, it’s reasonable that you should be able to choose which charity (if any) you donate to and although the per stamp price is a paltry amount if you buy a second class stamp between the 25th of March and the 1st of April you’ll be donating a penny whether you like it or not. Of course, you could delay posting letters and from the 1st of April all your money will go to Royal Mail or you could stock up on stamps before the 25th of March and only pay 58p a stamp.

What’s interesting is that if Royal Mail are to donate around £60,000 that means that they are expecting to sell around six million second class stamps in a week. Letters, whilst declining around 4% each year, still represent some 55% of Royal Mail’s UK revenues according to their 2017-18 annual statement. Letters represented about £4.15 billion revenue with parcel contributing £3.46 billion.

How many letters do Royal Mail deliver

It’s easy to think that in today’s ecommerce world that most of Royal Mail’s business is now parcels and, while parcels are growing their revenue share at around 4%, Royal Mail are still mainly in the business of delivering letters.

So, how many letters do Royal Mail deliver? In the 2017-18 year Royal Mail delivered around 14.4 billion letters and, even including Parcelforce, only around 1.2 billion parcels.

  • 5 months ago

    The % of decline in volumes roughly equals the % increase in prices.

    Royal Mail should go figure.

    If you are a non-business customer, you now only post something if there is no other way.

    As a business customer sending parcels, you have probably long since left Royal Mail.

    Which leaves stamp mail customers, who have no choice, bearing the brunt of price rises, with no alternative.

    The Dutch and German postal services want to come in and provide competition – they believe they can do better than RM in terms of service and for less. So why not let them?

    I know some would be upset at the idea of foreign carriers coming in and knocking the queen’s head off the stamp.

    But all the regulator is protecting here is poor service, ramping prices and dividends for shareholders.

    All to protect a so-called universal service, so that you can have junk mail come through your door six days a week.

    • 5 months ago

      @Andy When you say:

      “As a business customer sending parcels, you have probably long since left Royal Mail.”

      Who are these mystical couriers that are so much better?

      As a business customer sending parcels, I have not stopped using Royal Mail and find them to provide a very good service.

      Of course this may depend on the size parcels you send out, mine are all under 1kg.

      @Chris Dawson, of course your entitled to donate your money to who you want, but once you have spent that money it is no longer yours. By RM giving the money to their nominated charity at least it is going to a good cause, rather than just to OfCom, who will probably still give them a fine.

  • Mark
    5 months ago

    Why allow Dutch and German companies in to deal with our postal service.
    They are messing all over us currently because we have the audacity to want to leave their little boys club. Then suddenly we may have a 10% tarrif banged on all our postal charges.
    Let them stick to their own services until Brexit is all sorted and we have left then we will know the situation may be stable.

    • Dave
      5 months ago

      If you think we’re so much better than everyone else, why not build a wall whilst we’re at it?

      Idiotic.

    • 5 months ago

      @Dave Didn’t Hadrian already do that once?

  • 5 months ago

    What as usual your missing from this article is the fact in there Letter volumes they also deliver alot of internet sales via Large Letters. I send on average around 300 Large letters a day carrying, my internet sales (I sell makeup so lipsticks, lipgloss etc). Only the Royal Offers this service and not other carrier want to get involved in this market, as it’s a huge volume game. I also use the Royal Mail for packets again average weight under 1kg, now that they have introduced 2D barcodes, the Royal Mail service is certainly alot more reliable then Hermes and comparable, if you can tell who else delivering less then 1kg with tracking for £2.28+ VAT, please let me know.

    • alan paterson
      5 months ago

      @ Thomas, Hermes do cheaper than the price you have quoted provided you have sufficient volumes. They do less than 1kg for £1.70 plus VAT. You said to let you know.

      I dont agree with Royal Mail being more reliable either. At least when a hermes packet is lost I can put in a claim form and hope to be paid out which is more than can be said for a parcel sent by Royal Mails 2d barcode.

  • Tom
    5 months ago

    @thomas shearing – is the £2.28+ VAT inclusive of Royal Mails 4% fuel surcharge. We use RM tracked 48 however my Hermes have some in a tickle over £2.00 on 48 hour delivery. Need the volumes though. Are you doing 75k RM48 Tracked parcels per annum to get that price?

  • 5 months ago

    Of course, not everyone will run away from RM, as the comments here show.

    But they take advantage of being a privatised company, whilst still enjoying many of the protections the state-owned operation had.

    This could either have resulted in better service and moderate prices, or in a deteriorating service and rapidly rising prices.

    Which do you think we have got?

    Open the market up and end RM’s privileged status.

  • 5 months ago

    @alan paterson You are right in respect of putting in a claim to RM, with the contract I am on it is not possible as there is no compensation and even if there was, they are useless at paying.

    The RM policy for refunds has changed a lot since the 90’s in those days they were 1st class at paying claims in full for the full RRP + postage cost.

    However, RM only lose 1/1,000 (if that) and I do not have a problem with my metrics so they must deliver on time.

    How many parcels do Hermes lose? I would rather have items delivered than lost.

    Hermes tried to open an account for me but they could not offer a decent customer service to follow through, even after eventually sending me a quote.

    Price: I would say that 99% of what I send is less than 600g but Hermes did not offer me that price

    @Tom My invoice for items sent out yesterday was £2.16 +VAT per parcel with Royal Mail and I am not spending more than about £20k pa with them.

    It is hard to judge courier companies on price if we do not all get the same but performance is something completely different.

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