Royal Mail has predicted, as part of its year-end 2017/8 financial report, that the EU's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will negatively impact letter volumes.
According to the report, a general decline in letter volume had already been predicted due to an ongoing shift towards electronic communications—but the decline may be steeper following the mandatory application of GDPR rules by May 25th, the purpose of which is to tighten restrictions on how companies can use and store personal customer data.
The GDPR will make it harder for businesses to send unsolicited mail to customers, requiring, among other things, that they “opt in” to receive marketing communications rather than having to “opt out”, and that companies have a legitimate reason if they are sending messages to members of the public.
“We maintain our outlook for addressed letter volume declines of four to six per cent per annum (excluding political parties’ election mailings) over the medium-term,” Royal Mail declared in the report. “However, due to the potential impact of GDPR and, or, if business uncertainty persists, we expect to be at the higher end of the range of decline for 2018-9 and may fall outside the range in a period.”
Royal Mail has been encouraging businesses to get around the new restrictions by sending unaddressed mail, which does not require personal data.