Since the advent of online shopping and e-commerce, the makeup and methods of consumer spending have been constantly changing. Over the last ten years, consumers have been getting fewer products at the mall and more from the mail, and this trend in online shopping has escalated exponentially over the past two years. 

All data points to a greater reliance on online shopping and, therefore, package delivery. In order to adapt to these new changes in consumer behavior, developers are being forced to think strategically about how their mailrooms, package lockers and cluster mailboxes will handle the exponential increase in online shopping and package delivery.

Package Delivery and Purchasing Trends

Despite the extreme stresses that COVID inflicted on the U.S. economy, consumer spending increased in the latter half of 2020. Many people turned to online shopping as a means to make their lockdown lives a little more enjoyable.

Online shopping for those aged 65 and older increased 50% from its level in 2019. This threw many off guard and points to an emerging consumer base for online retailers. COVID changed not only who was spending money but also what people were spending money on. As restrictions lessened farther into 2020, more people began to spend money on outdoor equipment for socially distanced excursions. 

As the holidays approached, millions of Americans did their holiday shopping online rather than pack into shopping centers for Black Friday deals. This placed an unprecedented strain on warehouses and shipping companies across the country and produced significant delays in package delivery.

In response to this rise in online shopping, digital marketplaces have either streamlined or been absorbed by larger e-commerce companies. Some small online businesses saw demand for their products go through the roof, but didn’t have the shipping infrastructure in place to meet this demand and were forced to resort to going through larger e-commerce middlemen.

One disturbing pattern to emerge from 2020 was the uptick in package theft. According to a recent study which surveyed 2,000 people, 43% reported having a package stolen from them at least once during the year, and of that 43%, almost two-thirds reported that this wasn’t the first theft that they had suffered. These thefts occurred right on people’s doorsteps for the most part, and many homeowners have taken to installing surveillance cameras on their property in order to curb package theft.

Finally, during 2020, a sizable number of Americans moved out of cities and into suburbs. Though this is far from a mass urban exodus, there’s no doubt that a mixture of lockdown stress and extremely low interest rates led many of those who could afford it to leave their city apartments for the suburbs. 

What It Means for Developers

Cluster mailboxes in Arcadia Del Sol

In order to see how this all relates to cluster mailboxes, let's look back through the patterns and dig into their implications. First, suburbs are growing and have been growing for decades. City apartments typically already have package lockers within the apartment building, but in new suburban developments, this is not often the case. 

Mailrooms can easily be overlooked by developers who catch themselves late in the development process without an effective centralized mailbox system to get mail and packages to their residents.

As mentioned in the data, package theft is on the rise. The easiest and most effective way to curb package theft is to build a modern mail center. In a case study conducted by Florence Corporation in 2020, methods as basic as updating mailboxes to modern industry standards drastically reduced vandalism and break-ins. Developers have the opportunity to update their outdoor mail centers and cluster mailboxes to include plenty of package lockers to offer a viable and safe alternative to package delivery to the door for homeowners in their community.

As online shopping grows in popularity with nearly every demographic in the United States, the volume of package delivery grows with it. Purchasing trends indicate that people are consistently buying bigger, more expensive products faster than ever before. For communities of every size, shared package lockers served by the USPS will be in near-constant use. To meet this challenge, developers will need a robust, proven centralized mailbox system. 

Choosing the Best Centralized Mailbox System

Identifying the problem is the first step towards finding a solution. Developers are faced with an ever-increasing suburban population tied to an ever-increasing demand for package delivery. These suburban developments are typically dispersed over a large area, and one outdoor mail center location might not be enough to service the population and volume of package delivery.

In this case, cluster mailboxes are the way to go. USPS-approved cluster mailboxes can be used as their own miniature centralized mailbox system. They’re easy to install and adaptable to almost any climate, so they can be a “one-and-done” type of solution for each street or section in your development. As online shopping continues to increase, complimentary outdoor parcel lockers can be added to cluster mailboxes to accommodate growing demand for package lockers. Developers will need to stay up to date and get ahead of the curve in order to ensure future residents are satisfied and their mail is safe.

If you’re currently in the process of developing a suburban community, mailboxes might not be very high on your list of priorities. Trusted dealers who partner with Florence Corporation do the busy work for you by taking measurements for a mailroom or outdoor mail center and ensuring that your cluster mailbox locations are compliant with USPS and accessibility standards. They are renowned throughout the industry for their focus on providing clients with not only the best products, but the best service as well.

Designing and installing a centralized mailbox system can be a smooth process when you work with a quality partner with decades of experience. Manufacturers like Florence with their network of local experts make the planning and construction process easier and offer the highest standards of security and durability. Check out Florence products to see which will work best with your community design, and then get in touch with a Florence dealer today.