USPS Announces New Rates, Priority Mail to Rise over 3 Percent
By Ina Steiner
The USPS will raise Priority Mail rates by 3.1 percent overall in January, according to a filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission. The USPS filed its notice of rate changes for competitive products on Tuesday, and the new rates will go into effect on January 22, 2012.
Priority Mail Retail prices will increase an average of 3.2 percent, while the average price increase for Priority Mail Commercial Base will be 3 percent. Commercial Base offers lower prices to customers who use online and other authorized postage payment methods.
Note that the USPS makes available "Forever" rate Priority Mail boxes - see more information on this USPS page.
The overall increase for Priority Mail International (PMI) will be 8.7 percent.
Overall, the Express Mail rates will increase 3.3 percent. Express Mail Retail rates will increase an average of 4.4 percent, and Commercial Base rates for Express Mail will decrease 5 percent. The price for the Express Mail Retail Flat Rate Envelope and Legal Flat Rate Envelope, a significant portion of all Express Mail volume, is increasing 3.6 percent to $18.95.
New for January 2012, the USPS will introduce an Express Mail Flat Rate Box, priced at $39.95 across all channels. Eric Nash of Stamps.com said the introduction of the Express Mail Flat Rate Box could make the USPS a great alternative for overnight shipments, specifically for heavier packages going long distances, depending on the size of the Express Mail Flat Rate box, which is unclear at this time.
Media Mail and New Services
Doug Caldwell at AFMS Logistics Management Group in Portland, said the 2012 shipping rate increases range from 0% to 11%. "Hardest hit are international shipments and Parcel Select. The good news: still no fuel surcharges, and USPS will hold the line on dimensional penalties." AFMS works with clients to decrease their shipping costs through freight negotiation, expense reduction, and auditing solutions.
Caldwell said Media Mail is up a straight 2.5% for all weights. "Media Mail is unzoned, and continues to be a great bargain for Books, CDs, DVDs, and records. We've also noticed recent transit time improvements for USPS ground products, including Media Mail & Parcel Post."
He also noted a new Priority Mail box added to the two existing Priority Mail regional rate boxes. The new Box "C" will be top loading, will measure 15 X 12 X 12, and the maximum weight will be 25 lbs. "This will be the largest Priority Mail box that USPS will offer," he said. If deposited at retail, a $0.75 fee will be added.
Stamp.com's Nash said using the new 2012 rates, for a seller who was using regular Priority Mail to ship their heavier items before, the Regional Rate Box C could save them up to $11.34 (25 lbs. zone 8). "The savings start at 18 lbs. and up for the Regional Rate C box in comparison to Priority Mail," he said.
The USPS is also introducing a Package Intercept service within the Competitive Ancillary Services product, priced at $10.95 plus Priority Mail postage. According to Caldwell, Package Intercept will meet need of customers who need shipments redirected due to buyer's remorse, fraud, shipper's error or potential product loss. He said packages will be intercepted at the delivery post office, and shippers will have three Package Intercept options:
- Hold at the local post office for pickup;
- Redirect the package to a new delivery address;
- Return the package to the shipper.
Express Mail and Priority Mail are considered competitive products, unlike First Class mail which is a market dominant service that the USPS is not allowed to increase above the Consumer Price Index. The USPS had already announced in October that the cost of mailing a letter would rise by a penny beginning January 22, 2012. Letters (1 oz.) will increase to 45 cents, the first increase in the price of a First-Class Mail stamp since May 2009. The additional ounce rate will remain unchanged at 20 cents.
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