Catalog Mailers Fine with 5-day Delivery

Feb 06, 2013 3:32 PM  By

Direct-to-customer merchants who mail catalogs told Multichannel Merchant they are fine with the United States Postal Service’s 5-day delivery plan, which is scheduled to go into effect the week of Aug. 5.

Under the plan announced on February 6 by the USPS, catalogs and other forms of mail will no longer be delivered on Saturdays. Packages, however, will still be delivered on Saturdays.

USPS said in a statement that once the plan is fully implemented, it will generate a cost savings of about $2 billion annually.

Catalog mailers and others in direct-to-customer said they think the savings will be passed on to them in the form of fewer future rate increases.

“If going to 5-day (non-package) delivery is essential to aligning USPS costs with its declining revenues, then it is essential for the sustainability of the mailing industry and our economy,” said Terri Alpert, founder and CEO of Stony Creek Brands, which mails the Uno Alla Volta artisan gift catalog and The Artisan Table, formerly known as The Cooking Enthusiast and Professional Cutlery Direct.

Lynn Gore, vice president of marketing at Plow & Hearth, added that its in-home dates are on Mondays, and even now when it gets some early deliveries, it only represents about 3% of the total mail stream.

“We may see some demand shift, but I don’t think it will be a negative impact overall,” Gore said.

Lois Brayfield, president and chief creative officer at consultancy J. Schmid & Assoc., said that her catalog-mailing customers are not panicking about the USPS’s decision to cut mail delivery to five days.

But she added that it is something to keep an eye on because Monday tends to be the strongest delivery day for catalogs. So in theory, it could mean the catalog delivered on a Monday could become part of a cluttered mailbox.

“I don’t think it’s going to have strong effect on catalog marketing, but will it turn Tuesday into the next big in-home date?” Brayfield said. Will Monday become the day when (consumers) receive a big pile of mail?”

The other thing to keep an eye on will be co-mailing dates. Brayfield said this may be something catalog printers are going to have to take into consideration.

Hamilton Davison, president and executive director of the American Catalog Mailers Association, said in an email that his group supports aggressive cost cutting efforts, including a drop in delivery day, if it can make a material difference. He added that he hopes Congress will allow the USPS greater flexibility in managing its cost overhang as a way to drive volume and keep costs down.

Over the past several years, USPS has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages. However, recent strong growth in package delivery – a 14% volume increase since 2010 – and projections of continued strong package growth throughout the coming decade led to the revised approach to maintain package delivery six days per week, USPS said in a statement.

The USPS said it is making the announcement more than six months in advance of implementing five-day mail delivery schedule, to give residential and business customers time to plan and adjust. USPS plans to publish specific guidance in the near future for residential and business customers about its new delivery schedule.