|Sat Sept 10 2011 14:57:56|
Would You Miss Your Post Office If It Closed?
By: Ina Steiner
Kenneth Corbin attended hearings in Washington DC this week on the USPS plans to close over 3,652 post offices (see the Newsflash article). In defending the plan, a USPS representative told the Postal Regulatory Commission it would be an exaggeration to say every customer would have increased cost or increased inconvenience due to the closures.
We asked on our Facebook page, "would you miss your post office if it closed?" and the first responses were an overwhelming "Yes!"
"It is critical to my business" and "I couldn't run my business without USPS," one EcommerceBytes reader wrote.
In digging around for background for the story, we discovered an interesting report from the Congressional Research Service from 2 years ago. It shows how the number of post office locations has changed from 1970 to 2008 drawing from data from the USPS annual reports. The total number of "retail postal facilities" was down 16% over the past almost 40 years, and the composition of the facilities changed.
The chart shows that there are 45% fewer Community Post Office and Contract Postal Units and almost 15% fewer Post Offices, but 25% more "Post Office Branches and Post Office Stations."
This summer, the USPS came out with a new designation called the Village Post Office that would be operated by local businesses, such as pharmacies, grocery stores and other appropriate retailers, and would offer popular postal products and services such as stamps and flat-rate packaging. Sounds like a Contract Postal Unit to me. I'd be interested in learning why the USPS reduced Community and Contract postal units by almost half over the past 38 years (as of 2008), but now thinks "Village Post Offices" are a good idea.
Note that there is an important distinction between Contract Postal Units and Village Post Offices: the latter only sells stamps and flat-rate postage (Ed. 9/11).
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said recently, "Our customer's habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business." Tell us if you agree.