If it has been a while since you have sent a letter, you might be in for a little sticker shock – or perhaps in this case, stamp shock. That is because the price of stamps is about to get a 10 percent increase. Fox News reports on other increases that are on the way.
“In order to offset some losses, the Postal Service proposed a slew of price increases that were approved on Wednesday by the Postal Regulatory Commission – slated to take effect in 2019. Priority Mail Express prices will rise by 3.9 percent, while Priority Mail will increase 5.9 percent – those prices aren’t adjusted in line with inflation, but rather with perceived market conditions. First-class mail prices will rise by 10 percent.”
The piece also notes a 10 percent increase in the price of stamps.
“The price of a ‘Forever’ stamp is set to rise by 5 cents to 55 cents, a 10 percent and record nominal price adjustment.”
That convenient flat-rate box is also about to get a little more expensive, it goes from $7.20 to $7.90. And the large flat-rate box rises to $19.95. That is more than a $1 increase.
The reason for all these increases is that the USPS has not been profitable in over a decade. When the postal service’s debt and unfunded liabilities are added up, the bill comes to more than $120 billion.
The problem is linked to compensating employees and health benefits for retirees which increased by more than $1 billion combined in recent years.
Also contributing to the problem is a nearly $4 billion loss due in part to an overall volume decline of 3.2 billion pieces. Fewer people are sending mail and buying stamps. It is doubtful that making it even more expensive to do so will incentivize people to increase their reliance on the U.S. mail. Even if these increases help, they may not make up for even fewer people buying stamps next year.
The real competition for the mail is free-to-use technology. Besides physical objects like credit cards, much of what was once sent through the mail is done with email and instant messaging. Even the fax hangs on as a technology because it serves as instant messaging for physical paper.
Making matters worse for the mail are parcel services that are ever more competitive when it comes to pricing and services. Local FedEx stores offer printing services. And UPS Stores offer many extras as well as convenience. The retail experience of the USPS has remained unchanged for a very long time.