Mailers React to Possible Extinction of Saturday Mail Delivery

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Though some mailers, postal experts and mailing associations said last week that they were concerned about the notion of the U.S. Postal Service cutting mail delivery to five days per week, others said it just might be the last-ditch effort the agency needs to stay afloat.

Earlier this month, the USPS' Board of Governors said it would study a reduction in mail delivery as well as a consolidation of facilities. No day was specified for the reduction, but most think it would likely be Saturday. The USPS is prohibited from discontinuing six-day delivery without congressional approval.

Most mailers do not seem concerned that their mail would not be delivered on Saturday. Instead, they are more concerned about whether the agency would be able to handle the excess volume on Monday.

"Doing away with Saturday delivery will not have an adverse effect on our Val-Pak product because our mailings are not date-specific," said Diane Elmer, vice president of delivery logistics at Cox Target Media, Largo, FL.

If it would not cause backups on other days, Elmer said, "then we should look at eliminating Saturday delivery. We have to, if we are going to look at reform seriously."

Elmer said four other countries do not have Saturday delivery -- Canada, Sweden, Australia and Finland -- and their economies are still thriving.

John Haldi, a postal economist, agreed. He said cutting Saturday delivery would improve the USPS' productivity, "and the only way the postal service can survive is if they improve their productivity."

Other mailers said they thought the proposal to cut delivery was perhaps just a way to push Congress to enact postal reform.

Representatives of postal labor groups and mailer organizations met for the first time last week to work on an outline of a legislative solution to the financial crisis facing the USPS. A key part of the discussion was challenging the USPS' proposal to eliminate Saturday delivery, close post offices and increase postal rates. The group included the Direct Marketing Association, the Association of Postal Commerce, the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers and the major postal unions.


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