Post Office puts in strong Christmas performance

Post Office counter

The Post Office saw an 17% increase in total network income during December compared to the same period in 2019, reporting £66.3m in sales.

A trading update for the peak Christmas period from 30 November to 27 December 2020 also revealed that Postmaster variable remuneration increased on average by an estimated 20% compared to December 2019.

Network availability was in line with December 2019 despite the pandemic, with 11,450 branches open, totalling over 99% of the network.

Mails and parcels services increased significantly, reflecting broader trends in e-commerce growth. Drop & Go, the Post Office’s fast-track service for businesses and online sellers sending parcels, increased sales value by 87%.

Cash and banking services remained resilient, with small and independent businesses increasingly relying on their local Post Office to deposit takings. Over the period, £1.56bn was deposited and £630m was withdrawn at branches, only 10% down on 2019 despite varied levels of lockdown restrictions.

Bill payment volumes were up 27% across Post Office and Payzone during the period due to the benefit of the British Gas contract from January 2020 despite mild weather contributing to lower demand for energy top-ups.

Unsurprisingly, Post Office Travel Money saw a 69% plunge in like-for-like sales compared with the same period in 2019 because of pandemic related travel restrictions.

Post Office Chief Executive Nick Read said: “After a very challenging year for much of the retail sector, I am pleased to see 17% growth in network income over the Christmas period thanks to the hard work of postmasters. The mails market, particularly for parcels, remains very strong driven by the growth in online retailing. Our physical presence has been vital across the UK, with customers enjoying the convenience, expert advice and safe hands that our postmasters offer, in addition to the invaluable support they have provided to local communities during the pandemic with 99% of the network remaining open.”