As a kid, I always got a secret thrill from getting the mail. It wasn’t often that anything in the shiny grey box with the picture of Huckleberry Hound was for me. More often than not, it was stuff for my parents.
Once a month I got a copy of Fantastic Four as part of my subscription, and around my birthday there might be a card or a package from a distant aunt. But usually, it was nothing but junk mail and bills. But today, those have been largely replaced by spam and e-bills, as more and more of us transition activities once conducted through the mail to electronic modes.As a result of this growing trend, the United States Postal Service (USPS (News - Alert)) has been slowly hemorrhaging money. Many have predicted the demise of “snail mail” (and you know that when an important part of our lives earns a derisive nickname, it’s the beginning of the end) for years now.
And while the postal service is not quite ready to go the way of the Pony Express, it has made an announcement that should surprise no one, though it may upset the few people who are excited to read good old-fashioned catalogs as they watch college football.
That’s right. The post office will cease Saturday delivery of mail starting in August. It will continue to deliver packages six days a week, but mail service will be trimmed back to weekdays. Mail will also be delivered to PO boxes on Saturdays, and currently, post offices that are open on Saturdays will continue their existing hours.
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While the rise of e-mail has made letter writing mostly a quaint memory of the past, it has actually given the USPS a boost in other areas. Package deliveries have risen 14 percent since 2010, due in large part to increases in online and mobile commerce. Sites like eBay (News - Alert) and Amazon have seen huge increases in activity, driven by mobile commerce and innovations like Amazon Coins, and that rising tide has buoyed the ships of the postal service.
By cutting back on the letter/bill/catalog axis of service, the leaner USPS can focus more on package delivery.
In fact, an ultimate goal of the USPS is to provide same-day delivery service in many urban markets. The Metro Post service brings the USPS together with an undisclosed e-commerce partner to provide delivery within a matter of hours inside certain metropolitan areas.
If successful, the new program could generate tens of millions of dollars for the struggling entity.
For now, though, it looks to trim costs by cutting out Saturday delivery. Let’s take a moment of silence for the sound of the white truck pulling up to the curb and your local carrier coming to your door with a host of mail you’d likely throw away anyhow. Some think this move is just a temporary bandage to stop the inevitable demise of the USPS, but for now, it saves money and keeps the ship afloat.
Of course, this announcement comes mere days after my own dear mother retired after 30 years in the postal service. Coincidence? Probably. But congrats anyway, mom!