The parcels and packets sector was worth more than €430m in 2013 and has been enjoying annual growth of 5-6%, according to a report commissioned by the communications regulator.

This growth is likely to continue in the years ahead, according to Frontier Economics' findings for ComReg, as online shopping boosts the volume of items being carried to businesses and consumers across the country.

Between 83m and 94m items were carried in 2013, according to the report, with that split relatively evenly between business-to-consumer and business-to-business activity.

However business-to-business accounted for most of the value in the parcels and packets sector during the year, with a share of between 57% and 62%.

 The report found that eight operators accounted for 90% of the parcels and packets market in 2013, with An Post the largest with a 30-40% share.

However many operators - including An Post - were found to have higher shares of item volume than value, as some express companies had higher average prices per item than others.