Changes are coming to the United States Postal Service starting Oct. 1. Customers are confused about what this means for the future of snail mail. The changes involve longer service times for First Class Mail and Periodicals, and a temporary price increase related to the holidays.
Read on for a breakdown of the USPS changes, and how long some of them will run.
Will all USPS mail be affected by the changes?
USPS categorizes First Class Mail differently than First Class packages. First Class Mail includes things like standard letters, birthday cards and flats. First Class Packages are typically smaller, lightweight packages.
The new service standards impact First Class Mail and Periodicals. While USPS says that “most first class mail (61%) and periodicals (93%)” won’t be impacted, the changes will mean longer transit times for mail traveling long distances, especially coast-to-coast. Mail traveling within the same region will still have a delivery time of two days.
This means if you’ve got a birthday card to mail to Grandma all the way on the other side of the country, put it in the mail sooner rather than later.
When does affected USPS mail slow down?
The changes started Friday, Oct. 1, and will impact all mail going forward.
Do I have any other shipping options?
Yes. Customers can still opt to use Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail to ship packages within the contiguous U.S. Both options are delivered within 1-3 days.
What’s up with the USPS price increase?
Because of an anticipated increased holiday demand, shipping through USPS will get temporarily more expensive starting Monday, Oct. 3, running through Dec. 26. This will apply to all domestic packages but will not impact international products.
Are Forever stamps going to get more expensive, too?
Yes, but not for a while. According to a Sept. 15 release from USPS, Forever stamps will increase in price in July 2022.
Should I expect delays with holiday mail?
According to Kim Frum, a USPS spokeswoman, the peak season for USPS is between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
“Every year we urge customers to plan ahead and ship their holiday gifts early because the longer you wait, the more limited your choices of shipping options become,” Frum said.
During the 2020 holiday season, USPS delivered more than a billion packages.
A more detailed schedule for holiday shipping deadlines, including deadlines for shipping military, domestic and international packages, is expected to be released late next week.
Why is this happening?
In short, the postal service is in trouble financially and has been for a while.
Frum said the plan will “help return the organization to financial sustainability and achieve service excellence while maintaining universal six-day mail delivery and expanding seven-day package delivery.
“The Postal Service Plan will spur cash flow and savings to make $40 billion in capital investments over the next 10 years, many of which have been long-delayed due to the organization’s financial challenges of the past decade.”