Britain's Post Office [aka Consignia] reports that a total of 2.1 billion items, including twelve million parcels, were mailed in December, up fifty million on 2000. The numbers refute fears that the growth of electronic mail had already triggered the slow decline of traditional greetings cards.

Consignia’s two delivery arms, Royal Mail and Parcelforce, estimate that in aggregate they delivered ten million items ordered via the internet – up by 40% on last year.

The upsurge in volume is a welcome respite for beleaguered Consignia which recently reported H1 losses up year-on-year from £113 million to £281m ($398.5m) – mostly due to a £100m assets write-down at cash-burning Parcelforce. These figures would have made bleaker reading still were it not for a £144m credit resulting from alterations to its pensions accounting standards.

But consumer group PostWatch said it was too early to provide independent verification of Consignia's reliability during the period.

On the UK e-commerce front in general, Olivier Carron, vice-president of Keynote Europe commented: “Early research indicates that Christmas 2001 saw online sales of £815m, twice as good as last year. It is telling, however, that the public appears to have learnt from earlier years and plans well ahead when buying gifts online.”

News source: Financial Times