The USPS pilot program to test postal counters inside Staples stores is ending next month. Postal workers had objected to the program because, while they were called “USPS counters,” they were actually manned by non-union Staples employees who were trained by the USPS.
According to Reuters, the move came days after a postal workers union won the support of a teachers union, which approved a resolution to boycott Staples.
In a recent survey conducted by Pew Charitable Trust, respondents expressed support for an expansion of postal services. Only 10% were opposed to the idea of convenience stores offering postal services such as weighing packages, drop-off boxes and selling postage.
US Postmaster General Pat Donahoe said 27% of the postal business in the Staples pilot occurred outside normal business hours.
Donahoe delivered a video message to employees this week in which he said the pilot program with Staples was an example of the kind of innovation needed by the Postal Service. “Customers want one-stop shopping. That’s why major retailers are adding services in their retail stores, like dry cleaning, pharmacies, banking and medical services. If the Postal Service is not at the table, our competitors will be.”
Donahoe said the agency launched the test with Staples to improve access for customers. “The Staples relationship has been good for our business. It has put volume in the mailstream, and increasing volume helps to preserve and support Postal Service jobs.”
The Staples pilot program will start closing on August 1st. Participating Staples stores will transition to the Postal Service’s Approved Shipper Program, which is expected to be complete by August 29. With that program, retailers can offer certain postal services along with other carrier services.
The Approved Shipper Program has been in place since 2005 and almost 6,200 businesses participate nationwide.
Donahoe said the Approved Shipper Program would give customers access beyond normal Post Office hours in areas where there are no regular Post Offices.