The US Postal Service, striving to cut costs during a year when mail volume is expected to be 20 billion pieces lighter than the prior year, thinned the list of branches it is considering closing to 371. The agency removed 42 branches from its list of possible consolidations in the past month.
While the USPS has made no final decisions on what branches to close, the agency is focusing on shutting down offices in urban and suburban areas “where consolidations might be feasible while maintaining customer access to postal services.” The agency is deciding the future of 19 branches in Los Angeles, 16 in New York, 13 in Atlanta and nine in Washington, DC and St. Louis.
In May, the federal agency said it was considering closing more than 3,100 branches and stations nationwide. It narrowed that list to 677 facilities this summer, and to 413 locations last month.
In another effort to cut costs, the USPS is also making buyout packages available to thousands of employees. The agency is extending retirement offers to retail clerks, distribution center handlers and clerks and vehicle technicians, but not letter carriers.
Congress approved legislation last month to allow the USPS to delay $4 billion in payments to a retirees’ healthcare fund. The agency had been charged with spending $5.4 billion on payments to the fund this year, but the action allowed it to delay most of that. Postmaster General John Potter said last week that the agency would have stood to lose $7 billion during fiscal year 2009 if not for the reduction.
Industry experts told DMNews last month that the Postal Service’s eventual decision to cut branches will have little effect on marketers, unless it also decides to drastically cut distribution and processing locations.
A Postal Service representative could not immediately comment because October 12 is a federal holiday.