I’ve been curious about how quickly countries send out cards, if there was a slower/quicker time in that country’s history with regards to sending cards via Postcrossing, etc.
What I’ve done so far is looked for the date of every 100,000th postcard sent, starting back at #1. I’ve put the data in a table and then had Excel make a pretty chart. Click the countries below to see what I’ve done.
For the past 7 years or so, German postcard sending has been relatively stable, averaging 35.5 days per 100,000 postcards drawn (average rate of change is just 0.1) since January 2014. Compare that 35.5 day average to the 787 days it took for the first 100,000 to be sent. The second 100,000 happened in 338 days, then 204, 165, 143, etc. until finally leveling out in 2014.
Germany will soon draw card #10,000,000. Based on this steady average, it will happen around January 12, 2021 (but maybe a day or two sooner).
The Covid shutdown this spring didn’t seem to affect the rate of postcards sent in Germany.
Ever since 2013, the milestone occurring in December has happened in a fewer number of days than the it took the previous milestone to occur, and the following milestone has happened in more days than it took that milestone in December to occur. (i.e. It seems that sending speeds up in December then slows down in January.) Considering Postcrossing’s partnering with Deutsche Post to raise money for literacy, that makes total sense
I also briefly looked at Ukraine. I had had suspicions that Ukraine, though it’s #10 in the ranking of most postcards sent, hasn’t been sending as much. (I based this on the fact that I’ve only sent one to Ukraine, and I have received none.). My researched backed this up. See the chart for Ukraine and how it compares to Germany.
The last 100,000 milestone was in March of 2019 (631 days ago). Compare this to 2013 and the first part of 2014, when Ukraine reached 100,000 milestones around every 80 days. I don’t know anything about the history of Postcrossing in Ukraine or the postal system there that might explain this.
With Russia, you can see that things have been fairly steady since it took root, but if you look closer, you can see that in recent years, it hasn’t been rising as much as it was a few years ago.
In the chart above, where the marks are the highest, that means the fastest time between 100,000 cards. The highest time represents approximately 2014-2016, where the average was 36 days (just under Germany’s steady rate of 35.5). From there, you see where the rate has dropped slowly each year. In 2017, it was 41.67 days between markers; in 2018, it was 44.75; and in 2019, it was 51.7.
The anomaly on the right side of the chart is the Covid shutdown in Spring 2020. Things have picked back up, but it’s still slower than in the past. (The most recent milestone happened in 57 days.)
Summary of Russia: 1) Russia’s most popular time was 2014-2016. 2) Things are slowing down gradually, but it’s still not super slow. 3) Unlike Germany, the Covid shutdown affected Russia, but it is gradually rebounding.
The USA shows different patterns from the rest and is an example of a country where sending rates are increasing.
Here is the overall sending timeline:
Interestingly, it hit its first million postcards drawn before Germany (February vs. August of 2011). Also of note, since 2010, the first milestone of each year happened more slowly than the preceding and following milestone (i.e. December is a slow month in the USA, as compared to Germany, where December shows a slight increase, perhaps due to the Postcards for Literacy campaign.).
The rate of sending since 2011 shows the overall, gradual increase in the rate of sending.
From this chart, the Covid shutdown occurred near 6.7 million (towards the right side of the chart). Sending slowed some, but quickly rebounded for the next milestone. The past four milestones have been the four fastest on record (41 days for 3 of them, and 38 for the other).
None of these rates is as high as Germany’s average rate (35.5 days) or the highest average rate for Russia (36); however, with things speeding up in general and with recent high rates of sending, we could see those kinds of rates soon.
For the Netherlands, we have another case of a country where Postcrossing isn’t as popular as it used to be.
In the case of the Netherlands, Postcrossing experienced its most popular period in 2012 and 2013, experiencing a boom earlier than other countries, with an average of 55.8 days per 100,000 cards drawn at that point. Below is the graph showing the speed between milestones.
Since 2013, the speed has been gradually falling, but interestingly enough, Covid didn’t seem to hurt the speed in early 2020. The slowest period for Netherlands since its high point came right before Covid (October 2019), and there has been a slight surge since them.
China experienced a surge in 2013-2014 (average of 103.7 days per milestone), and has tapered off since then. Taking a look at the rates of speed, 2020 has caused a major slowdown for China.
Finland started strongly, reaching its first million before any other country. Unlike other countries, there wasn’t a big surge of any year or two, but was more of a slow bubble. Things have tapered some in recent years.
For Taiwan, things held steady for a while, averaging 110 days per milestone between 2012 and 2017, with some slowing since then.
Belarus experienced a nice boom between mid-2012 and mid-2014, averaging 87.5 days between milestones. Things have since slowed down.
Czechia had the latest ‘boom’ of all the countries, averaging 118 days between milestones mid-2016 until mid-2017. As with other countries, it has tapered off.
Not surprisingly, Germany, USA, and Russia are the top-3 senders in terms of total postcards sent, as well as their current rates of speed.
Of all the countries in the top-10, all are in decline in their rates of sending, except for Germany (holding steady) and the USA (speeding up). This doesn’t mean that all countries are declining, but it would take analysis of non-Top 10 countries to see.
Because the USA is speeding up and Russia is slowing down, expect that in the future, the USA will become the #2 postcard sender in Postcrossing. We’ll let things settle down post-Covid and perhaps when that time will come will become more apparent.
Below are some combined graphs, including zooming in in a couple of areas.
The early years:
Rates over time (minus a couple of countries, for readability):