Unboxing the Packing Problem

While online shopping has become the norm for apartment renters—purchasing tires, mattresses, rugs, and even goldfish for delivery—the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the volume of packages arriving daily at multifamily communities across the nation. Looking ahead to the holiday shopping season and beyond, that volume is not expected to slow down.

“We jokingly say it’s Black Friday everyday right now,” says Donna Logback, head of marketing at Package Concierge. “These sustained levels have been greater than holiday levels since the pandemic began.”

Package Concierge, a provider of automated locker solutions for multifamily communities, reported processing nearly 7 million package transactions during the height of stay-at-home orders from March 15 through May 23, a 31% year-over-year increase. Its weekly average exceeded 600,000 transactions, which was higher than the average weekly package volume processed during the 2019 holiday shopping season.

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual consumer holiday survey, a majority of holiday shoppers surveyed, 59%, plan to shift more of their purchasing online compared with last year.

“COVID has really changed the face of how people shop,” says Lori Torres, CEO of Parcel Pending, another firm that specializes in package management solutions. “We are seeing that the number of packages coming to apartment communities is up by as much as 81% since COVID.”

Fetch, an off-site package solution for multifamily communities, predicts that the onslaught of packages will be a lasting effect of the pandemic.

Among the multifamily communities served by Fetch, year-over-year package numbers increased by 39% in March and 48% in April, but then skyrocketed 58% in May and 63% in June. The average monthly package volume per apartment home for active Fetch users topped 10 packages in May, which was up from 6.34 packages the prior year and the holiday season average of 9.05 in December 2019.

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