USPS more than “bricks and mortar” – as operator eyes thousands of branch closures

USPS could close 2,000 branches from March – telling Post&Parcel that it wants its “customers to stop looking at the Postal Service as only brick and mortar post offices”.

The Postal Service will also review another 16,000 post offices if it can convince Congress to allow them to shut the unprofitable stores, with USPS spokeswoman Sue Brennan saying: “We absolutely have to consolidate our operations.”

The move follows the closure of 491 branches last year, as the company continues to battle huge losses.

For the last financial year, USPS lost $8.5bn – prompting the company to search for ways to cut costs even further.

Currently, USPS has a network of more than 32,000 stores. The operator argues that many of the offices are now outdated with the rise of the digital era, prompted by falling mail volumes.

When contacted by Post&Parcel, Brennan said: “We want customers to stop looking at the Postal Service as only brick and mortar post offices with the flag pole in front – look online at usps.com, look at the USPS app on iPhones (the #1 free business app), look at the more than 63,000 retail locations like Office Depot, grocery stores, drug stores and bank ATMs that sell stamps and in some cases, other postal products and services. And look at the more than 3,800 contract postal units across the nation.”

As it stands, USPS is not allowed to shut down a branch on the basis of losing money. However, USPS will lobby Congress to have the law altered so it can push ahead with its cost-cutting programme.

Brennan said that “mail volume has declined by 43.1bn pieces in the past five years alone and [that USPS is] trying to do everything we can to reduce costs, save money, provide a national service”.

“There has never been easier access – more prevalent access – to postal services and products than there is today. People are changing their habits – they want the convenience of purchasing stamps where they purchase their groceries, for example. They don’t want to make a separate trip to the post office. Those habits are reflected in our retail sales – which have declined steadily since 2003. And today, more than 30% of our retail sales come from alternative channels detailed above.”

Brennan confirmed to Post&Parcel that only 19% of USPS’s post offices cover their costs. She added that the offices under examination are satellite offices to the main post office in a city or town. Furthermore, USPS will look at branches that have already been closed for a period of time due to flooding, fire or other issues that prevent it from operating safely.

“Some of these offices [under consideration for closure] have even been closed for years,” Brennan added.

Do you agree with the potential closures? Should Congress amend the law in USPS’s favour? Please comment below…

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