UK jumps 10 places in European postal rate rankings

Norway and Denmark continue to have the highest domestic letter rates in Europe, according to the latest annual survey by Deutsche Post DHL, but the UK has seen the biggest hike in its ranking since last year. Royal Mail’s 30% increase in its first class letter rate has seen Britain’s ranking jump from 16th place among the top 29 European markets to 6th this year.

Adjusted for inflation, the UK has had the fourth biggest increase in letter prices among European nations since 2001, with rates up nearly 80% over the decade.

The Deutsche Post study, which gathered pricing correct as of April 2012, was the 11th annual survey the German postal service has conducted to benchmark its pricing against European rivals.

Germany’s letter prices remained in the lower third of European nations in 2012, partly thanks to tough regulatory controls. The last time Germany increased its letter rates was in 1997, while the last price change was in 2003.

Generally this year’s rankings within Europe have not changed dramatically other than the UK’s climb. Postage rates have remained the same as in last year in 19 European countries.

The highest rate increase was in Estonia, which was starting from a low level, increasing its rate EUR 0.10 to EUR 0.45.

Among the highest letter rates in Europe at the moment, including VAT where charged, Norway and Denmark are far ahead with EUR 1.22 and 1.07 respectively.

Rounding out the top five letter rates are Switzerland (EUR 0.81), Finland (EUR 0.75) and Belgium (0.75). The UK is now closing on the top five, its rate having leapt from EUR 0.54 last year to EUR 0.69 this year.

Most of Europe’s domestic letter rates are currently between EUR 0.40 and EUR 0.60, with the European average currently at EUR 0.55, exactly where Deutsche Post and Germany find themselves in the survey.

Malta once again found itself with the lowest domestic letter rate in Europe, EUR 0.20, with Slovenia the only other European country with a rate below EUR 0.30, charging EUR 0.27.

Commenting on the findings, Deutsche Post noted that nowhere in Europe except for Italy and Estonia did the actual price for sending a standard letter sink as much as in Germany.

“When factoring in inflation from 2000 to 2010, the price reduction amounts to just under 17%. In the countries under review, however, the price for a normal standard letter actually increased by more than half (by an average of 51%) during the same period,” the company said.

Looking at changes from 2001 to 2011, the survey found that Romania, Hungary and Slovakia had the top three biggest rate increases, increasing rates respectively 159.5%, 120.4% and 108% over the decade.

European cross-border

Looking at international letter rates between European countries, the Deutsche Post study revealed Portugal as the most expensive country from which to send a letter elsewhere in Europe.

Portugal’s European rate is almost four times the domestic rate, at EUR 1.85.

Estonia made a big jump in this year’s European rate rankings, up 17 places to reach 9th with a EUR 1.00 rate.

Deutsche Post said its own rate of EUR 0.75 put Germany in 22nd position in Europe, about EUR 0.16 lower than the European average.

“The price Deutsche Post charges for sending a letter from Germany to other European countries (the Europabrief) ranks well below the European average of 86 Euro cents,” it said.

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