As the United States Postal Service, weighed down by a crippling multibillion-dollar deficit, shrinks its operations, post offices across the country are on the chopping block. Each year, hundreds of postal operations shutter, but this coming fall could be the single biggest consolidation in Postal Service history.
Over the next three months, more than 3,200 post offices and retail outlets -- out of 34,000 -- will be reviewed for possible closure or consolidation.
For people who appreciate their local post office as much as we appreciate ours, there is some good news in this situation. When a post office is under consideration for closure, the process is taken slowly and there is generally room for public input on the matter. It's fairly obvious that mail service in the U.S. is slated for change. Only time will tell how noticeable that change will be, and whether or not it will cause significant hardship for anyone.
Consumers might be best advised to check with their local postmaster regarding the viability of their local post office. If it has been determined that your post office is one of those under consideration for closure, I'm certain that the employees of that post office will assist you in finding the ways to keep it alive.
Not only have e-mail and electronic bill paying made for a skinnier mail stream, but the recession has caused a sharp pullback in advertising mail that has hurt the Postal Service even more.
In March, Postmaster General John Potter asked Congress for the right to reduce the mail week from six days to five, for a savings of $3.5 billion. Shutting down post offices will have similar cost-saving effects. And most Americans say they're OK with the cutbacks, as long as they don't have to pay more to send mail. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll found that more Americans would rather the Postal Service curtail services than seek a bailout or raise stamp prices.