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Changes during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak

Royal Mail, and other delivery companies have made changes in order to reduce contact during deliveries.

Royal Mail, in regards to signature deliveries, have said that they will not be handing over hand-held devices to customers to capture signatures but will instead log the name of the person accepting the item. More information on Royal Mail’s response to the coronavirus outbreak can be found on their page coronavirus: changes to service.

Additionally, some delivery companies are operating via contactless delivery. The driver will knock on the door, and step back to a safe distance whilst the item is retrieved.

For up-to-date information on how different courier companies are operating during the pandemic, please see the company’s website.

Section 1 describes the key bodies in the UK postal market and the relationships between them. This section also introduces key terminology used to describe the UK postal market.

The UK postal market is dominated by Royal Mail which is both the largest operator and the ‘universal service provider’. Ofcom is the regulator of UK postal services and focuses much of its regulatory activity on Royal Mail as the universal service provider.

Section 2 tackles frequently asked questions regarding postal services, with a particular focus on issues that constituents may face.

Section 3 lays out the regulatory framework of UK postal services.

Section 4 sets out trends in the UK letters market. UK letter volumes have been in decline since the mid-2000s.

Section 5 describes recent trends in stamp prices. Ofcom granted Royal Mail price flexibility over stamp prices in 2012. Soon after, the price of 1st class stamp rose substantially.  A 1st class stamp is now priced at 76p, 95% higher than the face value of a stamp in 2010.

Section 6 sets out trends in the UK parcels market. Since March 2020, parcel deliveries have significantly increased due to an increase in online shopping prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Royal Mail reported a year-on-year increase of 34% in parcel volumes in the five months to 30 August 2020.

Section 7 explains the recent performance of Royal Mail. Royal Mail’s profits after tax fell slightly over the last couple of years and were £196 million in 2019/20. 

Royal Mail missed some of its targets in each of the past few years, some by quite a margin.  It commented that its performance had been “significantly impacted by a number of exceptional events”. Ofcom investigated this and issued Royal Mail with a decision in July 2020.

In 2018/19 and 2019/20 Royal Mail improved on meeting these targets


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