The prospect of the U.S. Postal Service moving to five-day delivery is looking more like a reality, now that President Obama has endorsed it and a House panel has approved legislation to lose one day of mail delivery. Mailers have plenty of questions about five-day postal delivery; here are some answers to just a few.
Q: How likely is it that the bill will be passed and the Postal Service will lose a delivery day?
A: With its mail volume declining sharply and its finances in dire straits, the USPS needs to scale back its operations ASAP. Reducing delivery frequency is one of the few ways the Postal Service can lower fixed costs, so chances are excellent that five-day delivery is a done deal.
“Support for five-day seems to be building in Washington, so the likelihood is increasing,” says Hamilton Davison, executive director for the American Catalog Mailers Association. “Congress is starting to realize that action to save the Postal Service is inevitable.”
Q: When will the move to five-day delivery most likely take place?
A: Postal industry watchers believe 2012 at the earliest. But much depends on the 2012 presidential election—so 2013 might be more realistic. Assuming the five-day delivery bill becomes law, there would be a time period of at least six months between approval and implementation.
Q: Will Saturday definitely be the day that the USPS will cut mail delivery?
A: Most likely. Although Tuesday has also been tossed around, the prevailing consensus is to stop delivery on Saturday. The USPS has said it wants to cut Saturday because mail volumes are lower on this day, and most businesses are closed.
Q: Does this mean that no mail will be processed on Saturdays?
A: No. The Postal Service will continue to accept bulk mail on Saturdays and post offices, Business Mail Entry Units and Detached Mail units that are currently open on Saturday and Sunday will continue to be open on Saturdays to accept bulk mail, according to USPS spokesperson David Partenheimer.
“The only major processing change that customers will need to be aware of is that mail accepted at post offices Saturday will be processed Monday, rather than over the weekend, as is currently the case,” Partenheimer says.
Q: If mail volume continues to fall, will the Postal Service cut back its delivery schedule even more?
A: Probably. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said it’s likely that the USPS will eventually cut delivery back to four and three days a week, although this likely wouldn’t happen for 10 to 15 years.