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Postal Service releases plan to preserve Post Offices in rural America
Postal customers across the country want to keep rural Post Offices open. The Postal Service developed a solution to do that by modifying retail window hours while still achieving cost savings.
Here’s the plan. Access to the lobby and P.O. boxes remains the same, and a community retains its ZIP Code. The hours the office is open depend on the level of activity. The plan enables the Postal Service to achieve over a half-a-billion dollars in annual cost savings in an effort to regain a stronger financial footing.
Later this year, public meetings will begin with affected communities to gather feedback on this and the other options: establishing mail delivery service to residents and businesses by either rural carrier or highway contract route; contracting with a local business or community venue to create a Village Post Office; or providing service from a nearby Post Office.
Some communities may opt for a Village Post Office where a local business, like a grocery store, can provide more convenient access to postal products and services 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
Additionally, the Postal Service continues to expand alternative access with usps.com and the new smartphone app where customers can buy stamps and print shipping labels without leaving their home. In addition to online offerings, customers have postal access at more than 70,000 retail partner locations across the country including Wal-Mart, Staples, Office Depot, Walgreens, Sam’s Club, Costco, and many others. In fact, nearly 40 percent of all retail sales for the Postal Service come from online purchases or at approved postal providers.
Even as more and more people shift to alternate access, there is still a desire to keep Post Offices open in rural America. However, 88 percent of small rural post offices do not cover the operating costs to keep the facility open.
Customer visits to the “brick and mortar” Post Office have declined by more than 27 percent since 2005 with 350 million fewer visits a year.
As the Postal Service leaves no stone unturned in achieving cost reductions to return to financial stability, it has not forgotten its fundamental role in delivering for the American public and providing universal access to its products and services.
Charles J. Miller
Lakeland District Manager (Ill.)
United States Postal Service
From the June 13-19, 2012, issue