Postal Service announces mix of price cuts, increases for 2010

Less than a month after the US Postal Service announced it will not raise rates for 2010 on its “market dominant products,” a category that includes services used largely by direct mailers and publishers, the agency revealed a mix of increases and rate cuts on other services for next year.

The agency disclosed that the price of a domestic priority mail flat-rate envelope will drop from $4.95 to $4.90, while the cost of a priority mail small flat-rate box will remain at $4.95 for next year.

However, the agency also disclosed that priority mail customers will see an average price increase of 3.3% next year, while express mail users will see prices jump by 4.5% and international shipping services prices will go up by an average of 3.3%. The price changes are effective January 4, 2010. The price of a first-class mail stamp will remain at 44 cents next year.

“The object is always to ensure that each particular product category handles its own individual institutional costs, and I think these prices reflect that,” said Dave Lewin, PR representative for the USPS.

In a frequently asked questions section on the USPS’ Web site, the federal agency explained that prices are increasing due to “the cost of doing business – for things like transportation, utilities and healthcare benefits.”

The Postal Service told customers last month that it will not raise rates for next year on its first-class and standard mail, periodicals and single-piece parcel post services, although it has said its fiscal-year 2009 mail volume is as much as 20 billion pieces lighter than the year before. Direct mailers told DMNews at the time that the decision not to raise those rates will have a positive impact on mailers. The announcements also come at a time when the USPS is deciding what local postal office branches to close.

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