We don’t send letters anymore, so why are we still building houses with letter boxes?

Letterboxes are a great solution for letters – but hopeless for parcels, which either prompt ‘Sorry we missed you cards’ and a cat-and-mouse game of redeliveries and trips to parcel depots, or packages end up on doorsteps or in bins, at risk of the elements and opportunistic thieves. With letter deliveries falling and parcel volumes – and parcel thefts – growing year on year, why are we still designing homes and commercial buildings with letter boxes? And how can we better-equip new builds for the shift in online shopping habits?

Online shopping has continued its relentless rise ever since the dawn of internet retail giants, such as Amazon and Alibaba, began to offer people the convenience of browsing and purchasing products from the comfort of their own homes. But, with lockdown restrictions that came into effect around the world in 2019 in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the rate at which people have used the internet as their primary shopping portal has spiked dramatically.

The Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, reported by Business Wire, reveals that in the US, parcel volume grew to around 20 billion in 2020 — a 37% increase year-on-year since 2019. Similarly, in the UK, Statista reports that 4.2 billion parcels were sent in the financial year 2020-21 — 44% more than in 2019-2020.

This comes hand in hand with a predicted decline in the volume of letters being sent: down 19% in the US according to the USPS in the period between 2012 (159.8 billion letters sent) to 2020 (129.2 billion letters mailed), and by around 40% between 2018 and 2028 in the UK, according to data from the Royal Mail. These figures just go to show that not only are home package deliveries becoming more frequent, but they could also be on track to replace standard letter mail almost completely!

If you’re an architect or work within the building and construction industry, this opens up the question: are standard letter boxes obsolete, and do new housing projects need a modern solution for our home delivery habits?

Why we need better package delivery options for new building developments

The greater adoption of online shopping services has been a convenient solution whilst people have been staying at home, but it has also raised new challenges in the post-pandemic. Namely, an uptick in parcel theft and missed deliveries and a higher chance of damage to packages left outside or unattended. This is especially the case now that coronavirus lockdown restrictions have lessened and more people will have returned to work, or are more likely to be outside of their homes during the day. Whereas letter mail can simply be delivered through a letter box in a door or wall without the recipient present, packages pose a larger problem which is causing headaches for both private individuals and companies.

Research by Safewise in the US found that:

  • More than 3 in 4 Americans have been a victim of package theft in their lifetime
  • Around 210 million packages were stolen in 2020 alone
  •  72% of Americans say they are more concerned about parcel theft during the pandemic

Research by Citizens Advice found in the UK:

  • 5.5 million people (one in ten) had a parcel lost or stolen over a 12-month period from 2020-21
  • Over 20 million people received ‘Sorry you were out cards’ despite being at home, with some parcels left in insecure places such as doorsteps and bins
  • In a single week, almost 3 million people missed a parcel because they didn’t have time to get to the door

Incorporating innovative, cost-effective solutions for home and commercial parcel deliveries in new building developments would help tackle these problems and begin future-proofing new property as package delivery continues to grow.

What home package delivery solution is available to property developers

While there are a number of different standalone products that can help make package delivery more convenient for buyers — such as bulky lockers and lockboxes — it may be a positive selling point to be able to offer forward-thinking practicality as part of the property design. Having a secure parcel box that is only accessible by the homeowner, tenant or business and comes in a choice of designs offers more flexibility for architects, building contractors and property developers to offer their customers. Enter the Penn Parcel Box.

The Penn Parcel Box is available in both a front-opening and a rear-opening design. The front-opening version is easy to install securely by the front door or to an external wall, making it a great choice for renovation projects. The rear-opening Penn Parcel Box can be conveniently built into an exterior wall or boundary — much like a standard letter box is fitted into a door – with the contents only retrievable from inside the property or boundary.

Both models offer the same quality design features: sturdy, steel frames with a weather-resistant powder coating to keep deliveries safe and dry, making them the perfect addition for construction projects as an outside delivery point for homes or commercial buildings, or inside the foyer of apartment blocks or commercial buildings with larger reception areas.

Available to order in two sizes and with four colour options (Polar White, Slate Grey, Ivy Green and Black), finding the solution that best fits the styling of new property developments has never been easier, giving new construction projects a 21st-century solution to the letter box that can handle modern demands.

If you’re an architect, building contractor or property developer, offering forward-thinking solutions that match modern delivery preferences to future-proof your buildings is a must. For more information on how the Penn Parcel Box can help your housing and commercial property developments stay ahead of the curve, get in touch with our friendly team on 01424 429 641.

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