Image via Chicago Tribune
In just a few months, you could return home from a full Saturday afternoon to an empty mailbox. On February 6, the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to drop Saturday delivery of first-class mail beginning in August, touting savings of $2 billion annually.
While the discontinuation would affect direct mail, newspapers, periodicals and first-class mail, the Postal Service does plan to continue its delivery of packages and pharmaceutical drugs on Saturday.
After the announcement was made, several organizations rallied together with plans to lobby Congress for legislation that would preserve Saturday delivery. The Greeting Card Association, National Newspaper Association, American Forest & Paper Association, National Rural Letter Carriers Association and Envelope Manufacturers Association trade groups, as well as the National Association of Letter Carriers labor union, have all made statements regarding the announcement.
A study released on Feb. 14 by the USPS that was conducted by an independent market research company found that 80 percent of Americans support the new delivery schedule, but lawmakers are split on the issue. Many are questioning whether USPS has the legal authority to move forward with its plan despite the new GOP spending bill, which directs the USPS to deliver mail six days a week.
The debate has valid points on both sides. The Postal Service, an independent U.S. government agency not taxpayer funded, claimed a loss of $16 billion last year. It handled 160 billion pieces of mail in 2012, down from 212 billion five years ago. According to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, only small newspapers that do not have their own Saturday deliverers will suffer significant losses.
On the other hand, with about 60 percent of greeting cards sent through the Postal Service, the Greeting Card Association feels reason enough to worry. It’s a trillion-dollar mailing industry in the U.S., according to the Envelope Manufacturers Association, and the organizations that are together protesting the USPS’ announcement believe there may be other alternatives that should first be fully explored, such as working to reduce labor costs, changing the requirements for overpayments to the Federal Employees Retirement System and prefunding the retiree health benefits, making greater use of technology, modernizing the business model to enable new revenue sources, and enabling mail as a cost-competitive option for business communications.
For direct mail marketers, a five-day delivery week would also reduce the window for getting their pieces in home, resulting in potentially more impact during the holidays, when shopping is compressed into a shorter time frame. But with six months advance notice, the USPS has stated that there should be adequate time for direct mail marketers to adjust their planning and schedules. Should this new delivery schedule go into effect, tracking mail and detailed reporting will be key to fully understanding and gauging impact.
Representatives from around the country are expected to meet in Washington next month to make their respective cases to lawmakers on the issue.
What do you think about the issue and how would ceasing Saturday mail affect you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.