WASHINGTON -- Postal carriers operate under the creed--more legendary than actually binding--that "neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." But now the U.S. Postal Service has announced plans to drop Saturday mail delivery.
It will transition to a new delivery schedule during the week of Aug. 5, 2013, that includes package delivery Monday through Saturday and mail delivery Monday through Friday.
The operational plan for the new delivery schedule anticipates a combination of employee reassignment and attrition and is expected to achieve cost savings of approximately $2 billion annually when fully implemented.
The move is part of a strategy to stop losses that amounted to $15.9 billion in its most recent fiscal year, said a Wall Street Journal report.
The Postal Service cited e-commerce as a reason for declining use of the mail. It cited recent strong growth in package delivery and projections of continued strong package growth as the reason it will maintain package delivery six days per week.
The Postal Service is making the announcement more than six months in advance of implementing five-day mail delivery schedule to give residential and business customers time to plan and adjust, it said. The Postal Service plans to publish specific guidance soon for residential and business customers about its new delivery schedule.
"The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America's changing mailing habits," said Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General and CEO. "We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings."
Many American rely on Saturday mail to receive such items as newspapers, NetFlix movies and bills, said the Journal.
"[The] plan to end Saturday delivery is a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers. It would be particularly harmful to small businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication," said National Association of Letter Carriers president Fredric Rolando in a statement.
"Our customers see strong value in the national delivery platform we provide and maintaining a six-day delivery schedule for packages is an important part of that platform," said Donahoe. "As consumers increasingly use and rely on delivery services--especially due to the rise of e-commerce--we can play an increasingly vital role as a delivery provider of choice, and as a driver of growth opportunities for America's businesses."
Once implemented during August of 2013, mail delivery to street addresses will occur Monday through Friday. Packages will continue to be delivered six days per week. Mail addressed to post office boxes will continue to be delivered on Saturdays. Post offices currently open on Saturdays will remain open on Saturdays.
Market research conducted by the Postal Service and independent research by major news organizations indicates that nearly seven out of 10 Americans (70%) supported the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs in its effort to return the organization to financial stability, the Postal Service claimed.
"The American public understands the financial challenges of the Postal Service and supports these steps as a responsible and reasonable approach to improving our financial situation," said Donahoe. "The Postal Service has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to return to long-term financial stability and ensure the continued affordability of the U.S. Mail."
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.