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USPS slowdowns may hurt small businesses

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 10:51 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Friday is the first day United States Postal Service delivery changes go into effect, including reducing the use of air delivery of its parcels in order to ease the burden of their projected 9.7 billion dollar loss this year.

The change affects First-Class Mail and periodicals traveling long distances. Packages that normally would have taken two to three days could take up to five. Small businesses rely on USPS because the rates for some are cheaper than competitors, but Meaghan Thomas at Louisville-based Pinch Spice Market said this move will hurt her business.

“If we want to get a package to the West coast in two days, normally USPS is great,” Thomas said. “With their changes, we’re going to have to go with UPS or FedEx, which could cost 10 dollars more per package.”

Pinch Spice Market has operated in Louisville for three years, providing exotic flavors to kitchens around the country. Thomas said COVID lockdowns had a lot more people cooking at home, so they were busier than ever, but bad experiences at the post office cost them sales.

“If this starts taking 4,5, and I suspect longer, people are going to get impatient,” Thomas said. “Maybe they’ll just go to a local store and buy a different spice.”

The change is part of USPS Delivering for America 10-year plan. A USPS spokesperson gave these tips to consumers

  • Plan ahead – For mail or correspondence that requires a deadline, the Postal Service encourages consumers to plan ahead and send their mail early. You likely wouldn’t wait to mail your mom a Mother’s Day card the day before or on Mother’s Day, so mail your letters and greeting cards with the Postal Service early so the Postal Service can ensure it reaches its final destination on-time.
  • When sending mail long distance, mail early – If it would take you more than a day to drive your mail to its destination, make sure to give your long-distance mail some extra time to travel with USPS.
  • Keep mailing letters! The majority of First-Class Mail will be unaffected by the Postal Service’s new service standards. In fact, these new standards mean your letters and mail will be delivered more reliably and consistently than they have been in previous years.

USPS predicts the slowdown will affect about 40% of all packages mailed in the United States. In addition to the speed change, prices for most services will go up between $0.25 and $5.00 starting October 3. Thomas said this change means a big hit to the company’s profits.

“We don’t know what to do,” Thomas said. “We’re going to have to figure this out for holidays. 75 cents a package doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re shipping thousands, that really gets you.”

The USPS fact sheet says the plan will improve service reliability and predictability – while trying to reach a 95% service performance rating.

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