Post Office delivers ‘resilient performance’

Post Office has reported a “resilient performance” in its latest trading statement.

The Post Office reveals there were 50.5 million customer transactions during the four-week period to 26 December 2021, down just 1.7% on the same period in 2019, before the pandemic, and down only 1.5% on 2020.

Total network income for the four-week period increased by 15%, compared with the same period in 2019, to £73.8m. It fell 5% when compared with the “exceptional” 2020 period.

The week beginning Monday 13 December was the network’s busiest week of the year, with 14.6m customer transactions. On Christmas Day itself, 65,000 transactions took place at Post Offices that were open.

The data shows network availability was as its highest level since before the pandemic, with 11,596 branches trading in December, almost 100 branches over its 11,500 requirement.

Post Office revealed that 3,100 branches offered click-and-collect services for DPD and Amazon for the first time. Around 70% of parcels were collected within one day of arriving at a branch.

Meanwhile, mails and parcels overall volumes were up versus the same period in 2019, reflecting broader trends in e-commerce growth. Drop & Go, the Post Office’s fast-track service continued to support businesses and online sellers sending parcels with sales value increasing by 60% compared with 2019. For the first time ever, Drop & Go customers were able to earn rewards up to £100 in both November and December as part of tiered loyalty reward scheme.

Post Office said cash and banking services “excelled” as small and independent businesses relied on their local branches to deposit cash takings. In the period 29 November to 26 December, thanks to the continued, widespread access to cash provided by the network, £2.11bn was deposited and £813m was withdrawn at Post Offices, up 34% compared with 2020 and 20% higher than the same period pre-pandemic in 2019. Post offices are now handling £3bn in cash every month, which coincides with the long-term trend of bank branch closures.

Post Office Travel Money saw a 100% increase in like for like sales compared with the same period in 2020 when greater travel restrictions were in place. Euros were the most popular currency accounting for around 65% of weekly sales over the period. After US Dollars, the most popular currency sales were UAE Dirham and the Australian Dollar.

In addition, Post Office Travel Insurance saw a 445% increase in sales of its products compared with the same period last year and were up 13% on 2019. Overall, Post Office Insurance products saw sales up 118% compared with Christmas 2020.

Bill payment volumes also performed well against an overall market decline of -9%, with volumes in line with prior years across Post Office and Payzone.

Post Office Chief Executive, Nick Read, said: “Whilst the parcel market remains highly competitive and challenging, post offices have delivered a resilient performance in the face of Covid-19 restrictions, dramatic falls in footfall on our high streets and general uncertainty about the cost of living. It’s a testament to the determination and hard work of postmasters that so many remained open, providing essential services to their community, with well over 11,500 branches trading.

“Our cash and banking offer performed very strongly, ensuring people could withdraw cash to spend locally on hospitality and gifts, and small businesses had somewhere open to deposit their takings. Our travel business goes from strength to strength and the recent relaxation in travel testing rules provides us with further opportunities to benefit commercially over the coming months. This year we will also expand our click-and-collect services from 3,100 branches to over 6,000.”

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