The Elimination of Saturday Mail Delivery: Is It the End or the Beginning?

The United States Postal Service has a vast market, reaching every address in the nation. However, the ailing Postal Service lost $1.3 billion in the first quarter of the 2013 fiscal year, continuing what has been a steady financial decline. In addition, the marketing industry has been abuzz over the recent announcement that USPS will end Saturday delivery of First Class and Standard mail. Many are asking, does this signal the end of direct marketing as we know it?

I don’t think so. Direct mail is still a viable and important communication channel. However, this change will certainly impact the landscape.

Logical Explanations
Ending Saturday delivery was inevitable. The USPS has been losing billions of dollars with no recovery in sight. Substantial cost cutting measures were necessary, and this is simply one such measure. The elimination of Saturday delivery is expected to save the Postal Service $2 billion a year.

To put this change into perspective, we should review the past and present of the USPS. At one point in time, the USPS was a primary means of communication. We relied on the postal service to receive our bills, catalogs, letters from friends, magazines, holiday cards and marketing offers.

A lot of this has since changed. Email and the Internet are now the primary means of written communication. It is now possible to deliver most, if not all, written communication electronically and instantaneously. Of course we continue to receive some communication via the mail but there is no argument that the volume of mail has decreased dramatically over the past decade. Therefore, it is logical that fewer pieces of mail can be handled over fewer days of delivery with an overall reduction in cost for the USPS.

Furthermore, many corporations and business are not open on weekends. Mail delivered on Saturday is often left in the mailroom until the workweek begins Monday morning. The choice of Saturday as a day to discontinue mail delivery makes sense from the perspective of businesses.

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  • Krvince

    Please, let’s not forget that the USPS was obligated to fund retirement of a generation and a half of future retirees, some not even born yet– a unique burden for any institution whether it be public or private. A lot of this was programmed destruction of a pesky quasi-business within the federal government that didn’t sit well with many law makers. It was not taking tax payer money and was attempting to fund all its expenses through postage. The growth of the internet and the like is an important, but hardly central root cause here. Certainly first class mail volume is down, but we have yet to devise a technology that pushes a physical package down an electric wire or airborne electronic link, magically to reconstitute itself at the other end. Just wait until the beloved private sector has that market all to itself. $$$ In the meantime, let’s get all the facts on the table.

  • WL Direct

    Businesses may be closed on Saturdays… but that is the day consumers are more likely to be home. I’d rather see mail delivery skipped on Wednesday… and keep Saturday. That last opportunity to get a marketing/campaign message into the hands of consumers/voters before a Saturday, Sunday or weekend sale or event… or an election day on Tuesday… is more important to me than whether a business gets its mail every day Mon-Fri…. I’d just as soon have a weekday that I do NOT have to look through my mail. But my clients want their customers to receive their mailing on Saturday!