Much has been in the news lately about the United States Postal Service (USPS). It has been financially struggling for some time now, and continues to show a loss each year. Changes are in the works to reverse this trend, and those changes will affect everyone.
First class mail is one area likely to be hardest hit. For one thing, President Obama has endorsed the idea of discontinuing Saturday delivery. Additionally, due to postal network optimization, overnight mail delivery of first class mail will be a rarity, even if the recipient is in the next town over. Because of decreased overall volumes, more than half of the current mail sorting facilities are being reviewed for efficiency and may be closed. In September of 2011, the USPS announced a study of the operations of 252 of its 487 mail processing facilities. The goal is to reduce the number of processing centers to fewer than 200 by 2013. The remaining facilities will expand their work hours from an average of seven hours per day to up to 18 hours per day. This change in hours will impact the current cut-off times for mail delivery to Business Mail Entry Units (BMEUs). For first-class presort mail, entry times will change for 8 a.m. for mixed mail and noon for 5-digit presort mail.
Postal officials say delivery times of first class mail will change to 2 – 3 days, up from the current 1 – 3 days. Periodicals will change to 2 – 9 days, also up from the current 1 – 9 days. The USPS does say, however, that based on mail entry times, one-day delivery for local mail is still possible but only for presorted mail and only for mail to ZIP codes in your local Sectional Center Facility.
With these changes, the best way for mailers to reduce their delivery times is through presorting and separating the mail for quicker processing through the streamlined USPS network.
Mailers should be aware of these changes and continue to develop new strategies for working with them. At the very least, people need to allow more time for delivery of pieces; large-scale commercial mailers may also want to change production schedules in order to meet new entry times.