Courier prices fall following bumper Christmas peak

The latest update from the CX Price Index 

Courier prices fell by an average of 7.9% in January following an unprecedented spike in December 2022.

Demand for couriers over Christmas had pushed courier prices to record-breaking levels. Last month, however, courier prices returned to more modest levels.

Although the drop is significant, it follows an expected pattern. A spending splurge in December increases demand for couriers. Then in January, when the public reigns in retail spending, demand for couriers falls – and courier prices fall too.

The 7.9% drop in courier prices still leaves prices at record highs – of sorts. Average courier prices in January 2023 were the highest recorded in any January since the CX Price Index began more than four years ago.

What’s more, multiple global factors suggest courier prices may continue to climb as the year unfolds. UK inflation remains high. The costs of goods such as AdBlue, rubber, carbon and steel – all essential to the road transport industry – have recently increased. And China’s economy has reopened following covid lockdowns, which is expected to place upwards pressure on fuel costs.

So while courier prices technically fell in January, the trend may prove short-lived.

Lyall Cresswell, CEO of CX parent company Transport Exchange Group, said:

“Having closely tracked haulage and courier prices for the past four years, we’ve come to expect the trend of prices dropping in January, following peak demand in the run-up to Christmas. 

“A new factor for price trends, however, is the price of diesel stubbornly refusing to come down in line with petrol prices. For an industry that remains reliant on diesel, this is a significant business cost.  

“There’s a real push for alternative fuel vehicles, but that won’t solve the imminent cost issue. In the short term, many road transport businesses might simply have to charge their customers more.”

Kirsten Tisdale, director of logistics consultants Aricia Limited and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport, said: 

“Although the drop between December 2022 and the January 2023 TEG Index looks dramatic when seen on its own, it’s actually part of a reasonably predictable pattern. The various elements of the index are all pretty much where you’d have expected them to be, based on applying the percentage change from 2019 to 2020, which is what we all used to consider ‘normal’.” 

The CX Price Index will continue to track changes in courier prices in Feb 2023 – and beyond.


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