The global courier services market and delivery services industry has experienced relatively stagnant growth in the past five years. During this time, the industry's revenue is estimated to grow at an annualized rate of just 0.6% to reach $204.8 billion, largely weighed down by the global recession. Revenue collapsed in 2009 and remained weak in 2010, as the global economic downturn diminished demand for courier services. Although global business conditions have stabilized since, debt concerns in Europe and North America continue to dampen consumer and business sentiment.
Keeping the industry afloat over the period has primarily been higher business activity in emerging economies and demand for time-sensitive goods. Revenue has also been aided by the growing number of individuals with internet access. With more consumers using e-commerce websites, a greater number of goods need to be transported using courier and delivery services. At the same time, however, internet use has diminished the need for some goods to be shipped, like documents that can be scanned and sent electronically. Due to these trends revenue is expected to increase 3.5% in 2013.
Industry profit margins are estimated to account for 7.3% of revenue in 2013, recovering from a low of 1.3% in 2008 when fuel prices reached record highs and the global economic downturn constrained demand. In this year, the world price of crude oil skyrocketed 36.4%. Although many major operators introduced fuel surcharges to cover higher fuel prices, the industry's smaller operators, which wield little market power, were forced to absorb the increased costs, eating into profit margins. Because small companies make up the majority of the industry, industry-wide profit margins were pressured.
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