Money & Business

Goodbye Saturday Mail: What Associations Need to Know

By / Feb 6, 2013 (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

After years of rumors, the U.S. Postal Service has decided to move to five-days-per-week letter delivery. How could the change affect your association?

Letters are taking the weekend off—permanently.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) announced that it will discontinue Saturday letter delivery beginning August 1, though other services, such as package delivery, will continue on Saturdays.

USPS cites strong support from the public for the change and says it’s an opportunity to cut costs as it increasingly faces financial issues.

But what does this mean for you and your association? A quick roundup:

Why the changes? To put it simply, USPS is looking to cut its budget significantly, and omitting one day of mail delivery per week could go a long way toward ensuring the long-term solvency of the service. The move is expected to save about $2 billion per year. “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,” Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said.

Exceptions to the rule: Package services remain a profitable bright spot for USPS and will continue six days a week, and mail will be delivered to P.O. boxes on Saturdays. Post offices will remain open on Saturdays, allowing consumers to buy stamps, drop off packages, or use other services. That said, expect hours at some smaller post offices to drop.

Reaction: The White House hasn’t commented on today’s announcement (the USPS is independent of the executive branch, and the administration found out about the change at the same time everyone else did), but one group that has is the National Association of Letter Carriers. Its president, Fredric Rolando, strongly criticized the decision in a statement. “Slowing mail service and degrading our unmatchable last-mile delivery network are not the answers to the postal service’s financial problems,” Rolando said. “If the postmaster general is unwilling or unable to develop a smart growth strategy that serves the nearly 50 percent of business mailers that want to keep six-day service, and if he arrogantly thinks he is above the law or has the right to decide policy matters that should be left to Congress, it is time for him to step down.” The National Association of Postal Supervisors, meanwhile, focused on next steps for its members.

How does it affect association mail? Most associations are unlikely to be significantly affected. But those that regularly mail to consumers rather than businesses (such as AARP) or associations that serve businesses regularly open on Saturday may experience delivery delays. At the same time, associations continue to face battles on other fronts, including possible chanages to discounted nonprofit postal rates, which associations are lobbying to protect.

While the USPS has set a date for the change, it announced the policy without congressional approval, so it’s possible that things may change as spending measures are considered in Congress.

Will the lack of Saturday delivery cause problems for your association? Let us know in the comments.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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