Sunday, July 31, 2011

Is the USPS Becoming Obsolete?

The United States Post Office recently announced it's plans to close nearly 4,000 locations, the biggest closure of branches in history.  From the Wall Street Journal:
The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service said Tuesday it would consider closing 3,653 post offices, mostly in rural areas, an announcement certain to trigger a battle with the targeted communities.
Postal officials say the agency, an independent arm of the federal government that is supported mostly by postal fees, has no choice but to downsize as people increasingly click on their computers to communicate and pay bills rather than drop letters in the mailbox.
As the article mentions, nobody sends letters anymore and there are less and less bills being sent through the mail.  Advertisers are less likely to send out print ads in the current recession as well.  I've noticed that the price of sending a package via Parcel Post is sometimes the same as sending it out Priority Mail.  It would seem that the Post Office is trying to do away with this service however in doing so, they are also encouraging people to look to other methods of shipping.  Shipping companies like FedEx and UPS are gaining in popularity as the cost to ship through the Post Office increases.  There has even been talk of doing away with Saturday mail delivery.

It seems like the Canadian Post is also having similar problems as evidenced by their recent strike that lasted 13 days (Canada's Post tried cutting costs by reducing wages).  It sounds like to some, however, that the strike may have worked against the office and it's employees as people started to find alternative ways of shipping.  Some people also realized that the lack of mail delivery didn't effect them that much since their checks were direct deposited and they didn't miss the junk mail.  It had also, of course sent some of the public into an outrage as people were left waiting to receive checks and small businesses (hello, crafters) were forced to ship through private companies which cut into their profits.

It does seem like the Canadian Post has other ways of earning money; like through their Comparison Shopper.  Say, you're shopping for your hobbies, you just go to their search engine and find listings from stores in both Canada and the US to compare price history, user reviews, store policies, etc.  It seems like this might be a way of generating more cash for the Post by generating advertiser dollars.  So far as I know, the USPS doesn't have any additional resources other than just jacking up postal rates.

Truth be told, the Post Office has offered a crucial service since the 18th century.  It may seem like it's becoming obsolete in this era of technology but where will you go if you need to send a letter?  Not everyone sends e-cards.  Even with the increased postal rates, it often still is less expensive to ship through the Post Office than through private couriers, especially for small businesses.

How will this effect your crafty business?  Well, for one, driving to your local Post Office may turn into a much longer drive which will take more time out of your day and increase the amount of gas you use to get there.  

What's your take?  Is the Post Office becoming obsolete?  Do you still use the Post Office?  Will you miss it if no longer existed?

Check this list to see if your local branch might be closed.   


pasqueflower said...

I would REALLY miss the USPS! I am lucky to have a branch just a few blocks from home, with a self-serve kiosk and a rack with free Priority Mail envelopes and boxes and variable height tables for wrapping. I mailed an order this morning (Sunday).

With my day job, I'd be lost without after hours options. My nearest Fed Ex or UPS drop off point would be miles away.

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

AJ said...

I am so tired of USPS complaining about e-mail and e-billing. Yes, it's true that people don't send letters anymore -- but honestly, how many of us sent letters before e-mail? Most people stayed in touch via the PHONE!

And yes, maybe we pay our bills on-line now. But you know what else we do on-line? A LOT of shopping. I went on a little on-line shopping spree last week, and this week a half a dozen packages have arrived at my doorstep.

I also still get a ton of junk mail. Some days it's all I get. I also get Netflix delivered to me. And some of the companies that I pay on-line still insist on sending me a paper bill.

That said, if USPS went away, I'd be really inconvenienced. UPS and FedEx are too expensive for the small packages of jewelry that I mail out.

Della said...

I would most definitely miss the USPS if we no longer had it available.

Paige @ Little Nostalgia said...

Ugh, the USPS office nearest my house is closed for "remodeling." It was also just sold, so I'm sure it's actually being turned into something else. Now I have to drive twice as far to mail all of my orders.

If the USPS went away, I'd have to up my prices for my items to make up the difference in shipping costs for UPS or FedEx.

Athena's Armoury said...

Seems like popular opinion is way in favor of the Post Office!

Love at First Blush said...

Thanks for the visit to my blog!

It was hard to do business when Canada Post went on strike! There was no other courier that would deliver envelopes for the same price as Canada Post, but fortunately customers were patient!

We definitely need the postal system in Canada and the US!