USPS Desperately Seeking Five-Day Mail Delivery

The prospect of losing a day of mail delivery is getting closer to reality. The U.S. Postal Postmaster General John E. Potter said yesterday that the Postal Service may be forced to cut back to five-day delivery because of rising costs and falling mail volume.

Potter asked Congress to allow USPS to cut mail delivery from six days to five days a week. If Congress and postal officials approved the measure, it could eliminate mail delivery on either Saturdays or Tuesdays, the system’s slowest days.

Potter also requested that Congress alter the USPS’s payment schedule for funding retiree health benefits to help it cut costs. (The Postal Service is required by law to prefund health care benefits for all its retirees.)

The Postal Service is projected to lose more than $6 billion for this fiscal year. Thanks to the increase in e-mail use, as well as the general economic slowdown, USPS said mail volume dropped by 4.5%, or more than 9 billion items, in 2008, to about 202 billion pieces.

Standard mailers, which includes catalogers, might argue that mail volume has also dropped because of huge postal rate hikes, which have cause them to cut circulation. Catalogers were hit hard with the rate hike of May 2007, which resulted in average postage increases of 20%-25%, and as some high as 40%.

For more on Potters appeal to Congress, see this article in our sister publication Direct Newsline.