The United States Postal Service (USPS) might be in trouble.
Mail volume is at a 29-year low, according to USAtoday.com, and the USPS has recorded annual losses as high as $15.9 billion in the last 10 years.
The reason is likely that people are sending less mail. In 2007, the USPS processed 212 billion volumes of mail. In 2015, that number was 154 billion.
Elizabeth Najduch, communications programs specialist for the U.S. Post Office said, “Since fiscal year 2007, total mail volume has declined by 27 percent. First-Class mail — our most profitable product — declined by 36 percent since 2007 and is expected to continue to decline as a result of changes to digital forms of communications and the increase in online transactions.”
She said First-Class mail is transactional mail, payments, bills and statements. They also deal with marketing mail, which are advertisements, and packages.
Les Beare, owner of The UPS Store in Fenton, said while they haven’t seen a “dramatic” decrease in daily incoming mail, they have seen a slight decline in recent years.
“More and more of our society is going paperless. They receive online statements and invoices and then login to their bank accounts and pay them online. Click, click, click. You’re done,” he said.
Goin’ Postal in Fenton, which is owned by Mike Clabuesch and Lucy Valeriano, is “absolutely” seeing a decline in people sending letter mail, Clabuesch said.
There are many reasons for this.
“People don’t necessarily send letters like they used to. One (reasons) is pricing. It’s become more pricey to send out packages across the country or internationally,” he said.
Another big factor is the internet. Instead of mailing a handwritten letter, you can send that person an email or message them on Facebook. Social media sites allow people to share their lies instantaneously, decreasing the need to send people letters about their families.
“You used to run to Walmart or Best Buy or Kohl’s and you would buy Christmas gifts for your family and you would ship those across the country,” Clabuesch said. “Now those companies have their own website, as well as Amazon, and you can just buy the item and they’ll ship it for free or at a low cost. You can just click and ship.”
Beare said the shipping of gifts is also declining, and it’s especially noticeable during holidays.
“With online shopping and shipping direct to your gift recipients, it can’t get any easier,” Beare said. “Gift cards also cause a decline in shipping packages. In years past we used to fill multiple large boxes of gifts and ship them. The boxes are getting smaller and fewer as time goes on.”
The UPS Store’s option of pack and ship option, where the office will even pack everything, guarantees delivery. If not, the sender gets the declared value of the item with proof of value, and all the packaging and shipping fees back.
“A lot those factors made it so you don’t have the need of the shipping industry in general. You just don’t have the need for it like you used to,” Clabuesch said.
Goin’ Postal is unique because they’re independent.
“We have continued to see growth. It’s a different kind of growth than you would see say at the post office,” he said.
At Goin’ Postal, there’s a growing need for companies to ship things to other companies.
“I would attribute that to the economy that’s in Michigan and the economy just in general that has been getting better over the last couple years,” Clabuesch said.
At the U.S. Post Office, Najduch said the amount of packages sent has increased 70 percent since 2010, which is due to the growth in e-commerce, improved tracking, competitive pricing, and effective product development and marketing.
“We project this growth to continue. Marketing mail has remained relatively stable as businesses continue to see a strong return on their investment in the mail,” she said.
In order to adjust to the decline in letter mail, Najduch said, “We have also focused our efforts on developing new products and enhancing existing product offerings to meet the needs of our customers.”