Rates of Sending by Country (Top 10 Countries)

Hi all,

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.

Germany

Observations:
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

Ukraine

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.

Russia

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.

USA

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.

Netherlands

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

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

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.

Taiwan

For Taiwan, things held steady for a while, averaging 110 days per milestone between 2012 and 2017, with some slowing since then.

Belarus

Belarus experienced a nice boom between mid-2012 and mid-2014, averaging 87.5 days between milestones. Things have since slowed down.

Czechia

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.

Combined Results

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.

Overall sending:

The early years:

The boom:

Rates over time (minus a couple of countries, for readability):

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Lol, I posted in the wrong topic about something, but anyways to actually talk about the amount sent from here. What I’ve noticed is that within a month or so the Postcard-ID will start with 48 instead of 47 here. It also seems to be that it takes about a year to go from 30 to 40 (2019) or from 40 to 50 (2020), if that makes sense?

The answer lies in the contemporary history of the country Ukraine, though the roots of the conflict are deep in the common history of Ukraine and Russia. In November 2013 the Euromaidan protests in Kiew began, trying to shift the country from a Russia-friendly policy more towards the west (politically speaking), especially the EU. In response, the large Russian minority in the southeast of Ukraine considered itself neglected by the new government in Kiew and sought more autonomy, and finally Russia invaded (24. February 2014) and annexed (18. March 2014) the Krim peninsula, and a civil war was sparked roughly from February 2014 in the Donbas area, which is rich in mineral resources and has a majority of Russians in many areas. Since then a more or less open war is raging in the east of Ukraine, affecting life and economy in the whole country, so Ukraininans have other things on their mind than Postcrossing. :frowning_face:

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Very interesting insight, and those dates correspond pretty much exactly with the changes in the rates of sending postcards in the data. Thanks for the info and history lesson!

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I’ll be looking into the Netherlands soon. :slight_smile:

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It would also be interesting to see the numbers for Russia. As a result to the Russian government’s involvement protecting their fellow Russians, the country was hit with trade sanctions by many countries, most of them still in effect. It would be interesting to see if that actually had effects on the general economy—I would assume that less Postcrossing postcards will be mailed if the economy in a country declines. On the other hand, the cost for mailing postcards may be low enough that people will continue unless they are really in a pickle. The German numbers don’t reflect the ups and downs of the economy, though the hardest hit since 2014 was this year with COVID-19, and many (including myself) are using Postcrossing to stay connected during the lockdown.

@TheBeaverFamily: I’m looking forward to more graphs from your analysis. We may gain some more interesting perspectives on countries that way.

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Very interesting topic, I’m awaiting more of this countries statistical evaluations. And maybe the background of changes in decrease and increase.

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I just added Russia and the US. Interesting things there as well.

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I’ve now added the Netherlands, as well as a couple of combined graphs with the results so far.

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This is definitely interesting! You might want to look into Finland at some point, it was one of the countries that was very enthusiastic about Postcrossing, back in the day. :wink:

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Thank you for the work you’ve been doing, this is such an interesting topic! I’d love to see the graph for Belgium as well one day :blush:

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Thank you so much for this interesting post! I do remember Belarus, Ukrainian and Finnish addresses occurred much more often than they do now.

I’m also very interested in China’s data. Hope it would be added in the future. :smile:

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I have now completed an analysis for the Top 10 Countries. Enjoy!

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I wonder what countries would show an increase rather than a decline in the last few years.

I am not suprised at all by these results. The decline of postal services and constant rate changes have surely made many Finnish postcrossers quit this hobby. When I joined in 2013, a priority stamp cost 0,85 € (same rate for domestic and international mail) and as a student that too felt a bit expensive. :sweat_smile: oh boy how wrong I was…

Since then there has been a steady annual rise of the prices and some reforms too. In early 2016, a new stamp category international mail was introduced and domestic economy class was merged with domestic priority class. As a result, you now pay more for one stamp (priority price), but your mail item travels slower (can take up to 5 days to arrive and even more) within Finland.

Now a stamp costs 1,75/1,85 €, so if I send 100 cards in a year, I spend 90-100 € more alone on stamps than I did in 2013. Compare that e.g. with Germany where the price for sending a postcard abroad has risen with 0,25 € under the same time period and thus a German postcrosser pays just 25 € more for stamps than s/he did in 2013. Also delivery days have been cut down: in 2017 the Finnish post quit Tuesday delivery and they are planning to quit Friday delivery too in 2022. They have already been experimenting with a three-day-delivery since summer, but now during Christmas time Friday delivery has been resumed. Compare this again with the postcrossing dream land Germany where you have a six-day-delivery.

At the same time, most post offices have been shut down, and instead we have post service points in supermarkets and kiosks manned by supermarket/kiosk staff who often have incomplete knowledge of stamps. There are many stories of how they claim how you can’t send cards abroad with one domestic stamp which you perfectly well can. Additionally, it’s a real shame that outgoing mail doesn’t get any kind of a cancellation and if it does, the cancellation is faint and barely readable. I realized I miss cancellations on my domestic mail, as it really signifies that this item has gone through a postal process of sorting. Nowadays it’s an exception if there is a cancellation. And because most post offices are shut down, getting a local cancellation is difficult. Also, I am not sure if this has always been a bit of issue, but sorting machines tend to leave their marks on cards (even huge). I have heard of cases that some postcrossers quit because they got fed up with received ruined cards.

To sum it up, we were quite active members back in the days (and are still though) when our postal system was working and manned by competent staff and stamp prices were cheap. When you dropped a card in a mail box in Helsinki back then you could almost be sure it arrives to Kuusamo next day or the day after that. Now that might well take a week (or more in worst cases). At one point we were about to break the 20,000-member-mark, but now our numbers are dwindling steadily and the numbers of Finnish postcrossers are the same as those of the UK or France.

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Thank you very much for your detailed analysis of Finland, @Regndroppar! It is sad to see how a greedy and lazy postal administration is slowly destroying a hobby. By the way, similar traits can be seen in our “paridise” Germany as well. Postcards have not been increased as much in price than letters (which increase almost every year), but German Post is thinking aloud of dropping mail delivery on Mondays, and more and more “post offices” (which legally have been Post Bank branches for many years) are being closed and replaced by shop-staffed outlets in supermarkets etc. Those shops have no or only very few commemorative stamps. We’ll see how things evolve…

I think the recent significant decline in Czechia is also the fault of a greedy postal administration. The rate for mail to Europe and the rest of the world (two different rates) have been increased every year, currently to my knowledge a letter or card to Europe costs 35 crowns, about 1.35 Euro. Take into account that the average salary in former Eastern Europe countries is still 30-50% lower than in the former West, it makes Postcrossing a very expensive hobby.

Interesting that most countries have experienced some negative impact of COVID-19, only Germany seems to have no impact, and in the Netherlands the numbers even increased. Both countries had relatively soft spring lockdowns, the postal systems were pretty much wrking as normal, and there was no issue going to a letterbox dropping off your mail or going to the post office for more stamps. And online shopping for both stamps and postcards is easy in these countries with a high percentage of internet users. In some countries, e.g. areas in mainland China, France, Spain and Italy, just dropping off your written postcards could be very difficult.

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I am curious how Poland will look like. I did some analyses of my own and our 1st big rate increase is very clearly visible. I wonder if the most recent one is showing already. 1.80 euro for a postcard is a bit much…