USPS, ACMA Comment on Summer Catalog Mail Sale

The U.S. Postal Service did not issue any press release or make any announcements on its plans for a summer rate break on postage for any increased standard mail volume for some standard mailers, confirms USPS spokesperson Dave Partenheimer.

But the idea is not exactly a new one—it’s been kicked around for more than a decade, according to Hamilton Davison, executive director of the American Catalog Mailers Association. Davison had made a presentation to Postmaster General John E. Potter and five other USPS Officers in March 2008, offering several options for catalog rate relief.

One of them was a special rate for off peak times when the USPS needs mail volume. Davison says he pushed for more than just three months in the summer, “because that’s not the most productive time for most catalogers.”

Potter presented it to the Mailing Industry CEO Council –of which Davison is a founding member. Davison sees little downside to the program. “I do not think it moves the needle on postal volumes given the short lead-time, slow summer selling season for most catalogers—there is, after all, a reason mail volumes are down then—and the general state of our economy,” he says. “But I give the USPS points for trying to innovate.”

Davison is involved in several initiatives with the USPS in which the Postal Service is “doing some really creative and productive thinking about new approaches. I applaud this effort, as well as USPS’s increased use of well-tested business approaches to problem solving.”

This is completely new for a government agency that historically has had a protected monopoly, he points out. “The mailing industry would, in my opinion, do well to support it.”

Partenheimer adds that the Postal Service “is always looking for ways to use our pricing flexibility to improve business, and the current economic climate makes that more important than ever.” Promotional pricing is one possibility, though the idea would need to be reviewed by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

When will mailers know more? As USPS moves forward with specific pricing promotions, and other business incentives, “we’ll announce them to the industry and the media,” Partenheimer says.

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