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Buy Priority Mail Postage Online, or Face USPS Rate Hike

The United States Postal Service wants to raise prices for its Priority Mail service when purchased at the Post Office, while lowering rates for those who print Priority Mail labels online. The service is extremely popular among lower- and medium-volume online sellers, and last year, consumers and businesses shipped 871 million pieces through Priority Mail.

The USPS filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on Tuesday to change Priority Mail rates to take effect in September – right before the holiday shopping season gears up.

To get an idea of the retail rates – the Small Flat Rate box would go from $5.80 to $5.95, a 2.6% increase; a Medium Flat Rate box would rise 2.4% to $12.65; and a Large Flat Rate box would rise 2.6% to $17.90.

Postage printed online, called Commercial Base (and Commercial Plus for high-volume shippers), would be reduced on average, with most of the decreases concentrated in the ground zones weighing between 7-16 pounds. Prices for Commercial Base customers will be reduced on average by 0.9 percent, and prices for Commercial Plus customers will decline on average 2.3 percent.

When the USPS raised rates in January, there was no “overall” increase for Priority Mail rates except for an increase of 3% in Priority Mail Express, formerly called Express Mail (see details from this November article).

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The Postal Service should have an easier time pushing through the rate changes with the PRC since 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 positioned the proposed rate change as a way to grow Priority Mail and were intended to offer more competitive pricing and build on Priority Mail’s popularity with customers.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.