Pet Peeve: The Dreaded Postal Office Queue [Infographic]


We’ve all been there, waiting in the queue to post a parcel or letter, checking your watch, tapping your foot and staring out of the window blankly waiting for the line to whittle down, so here at Parcel2Go, we decided to conduct our own research.


We surveyed 1,000 people to discover:

  • how long people queue
  • how long they would be willing to wait to be served
  • the frequency of their Post Office visits

From these findings, it gave us an overview of the time duration that is wasted while waiting in the dreaded postal office queue.


Research Findings

  • On average, the last time that people went to the Post Office, they had to spend around five and a half minutes* queuing before being served
  • Overall, the longest duration that someone would be willing to queue was around 12 minutes*
  • On average, people typically make one visit** to a Post Office per month
    • Those aged under 55 years old typically make one visit** per month, so around 12 visits in a year
    • Those aged over 55 years old typically make two visits** per month, so around 24 visits in a year
    • Using the above, in a lifetime (from age 18-80), the average person might make 1,044 visits to a Post Office

On average, customers can typically expect to wait for five and a half minutes* before being served, and with most people visiting the Post Office at least once a month, over a lifetime those minutes sure add up.

Using this ‘five and a half minutes’ stat, we wanted to see just how many more useful ways you could be spending those lost minutes over a long-term period, with some interesting results.



Things you could do in a five and a half minute post office queue



As well as the examples in the image above, we also looked at some longer-term options, looking at ways that this time could be better used for self-improvement.


For example:

  • Some providers offer language courses that you can complete with ~25.5 hours of studying and practising. By spending this five and a half minutes studying per day, within roughly 9 months you could have learnt a new language. This equals the same amount of time that the typical person would spend during 272 visits queuing in a postal office – or 11 years’ worth of visits for those aged over 55 years old.


  • Research suggests that the average reading speed is 300 words per seconds. You could read ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone’ in just over 4 hours - the same time as it would take you to make 44 postal office visits or the entirety of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ in just under 27 hours –the same as 295 visits.


  • Get your provisional driving licence and hit the road – according to the DVLA, passing your test takes, on average, 45 hours’ worth of lessons. It would take you the same time visit a postal office 490 times (around 40 years’ worth of once-a-month visits, or 20 years’ worth of twice a month visits!).


4% of respondents revealed that the last time they visited the Post Office they had to wait 20 minutes or more, and a leg-numbing 60 minutes was the longest duration that one poor respondent had to queue! If you were to fall into this unlucky group that had to wait 20 minutes or more, you could be wasting over 4 hours of time a year by purely having to wait in these queues.


Business users

For businesses who regularly need to visit a postal office, the time wasted is even more costly as it’s “dead time” which you could be using to make money. According to a recent government report, which looked into various aspects of a Post Office branch and how important these are, 66% percent of SME users said that how long they have to wait to be served is the third most important factor (behind ‘quality of service’ and ‘distance from where you usually set off’).

In the report, how long you must ‘wait to be served’ was also an important factor for non-business customers. 40 to 64-year-old non-business customers were the most likely to say that this is important (65%), compared to 18-39 year-olds (61%) and those aged 65+ (60%), showing that it is an issue for both businesses and non-business Post Office users.

Businesses that send via the postal office every working day, for example, could be wasting up to 24 hours every year just through queuing:


5.5-minute queue X 260 working days in a typical year = 1,430 minutes / 60 = 23.83 hours


With an average working day lasting 7.5 hours, this adds up to 3 working days being lost to queuing at the postal office each year. Therefore, the 24-hour duration that regular senders lose in the queue each year could be better used to focus on making businesses a success and to help profits soar. 

Frequent eBay sellers could also use the time much more wisely, to help make a few extra pennies. As opposed to losing time whilst stood in a queue, which typically adds up to just over 1 hour wasted per year, the time could be better used to list an extra item each month, so an extra 12 items per year (if each listing takes approximately 5 minutes).

With so many ways to better put your time to use, by using an online postal service like the ones that are available at Parcel2Go, you could save so much time. By booking a courier such as DPD, UPS and Hermes though Parcel2go, businesses have the option to not only save money, in some cases as much as 82%***, but they can usually drop off their parcels at a closer location, free of queues. Businesses can also opt for a courier to come and collect their parcels instead.

We’ve recently introduced a new Letters and Small Parcels service by Whistl, which allows our customers to send letters and small parcels while saving up to 35%**** on the cost they would pay over the counter at the postal office. Again, customers can have parcels collected, or drop their items off at a local drop-off point, and still have their letters and parcels delivered by their postman but staying clear of any queues.



*Average time durations have been rounded to the nearest thirty seconds.

**Average number of visits have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

***Based on a comparison between Parcelforce Euro Priority service to Germany at 25kg vs the same service with the Post Office.

****Compared with the cost of buying second-class stamps over the counter.

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