USPS First-Class Mail Slide Done?
When I worked for DMA, one of the main talking points its leadership reminded us of was how important direct mail was for preserving the USPS for Americans. It appears as though that talking point may have had some basis in reality. While the First-Class mail letter volume continues to fall, commercial First-Class mail volumes are slightly increasing. In other words, direct mailers are helping buoy USPS, says the Office of Inspector General.
“Something happened in fiscal year 2015 that hasn’t happened in years,” reads the blog post published on Monday. “Commercial First-Class Mail volumes increased a tiny bit. And we do mean tiny. The 9,700-piece increase in First-Class Presort Cards and Letters doesn’t even register as a percentage point increase over last year.”
Even so, overall First-Class mail volumes are dropping and USPS needs to continue to reorient itself to be as useful as possible to e-commerce marketers, the postal service continues to say.
“We’re seeing 15 percent growth in package volume over last year,” said Postmaster General and CEO Megan J. Brennan in a USPS statement on Monday. “This shows customers are increasingly counting on the postal service to deliver the holidays.”
USPS was slated to deliver 30 million packages that day and “15 billion total pieces of mail and packages” by New Year’s Eve.
USPS spokeswoman Sue Brennan sent this chart to Target Marketing in response to a request for comment on Tuesday.
“First-Class mail is still declining,” she tells Target Marketing. “Here, you have ‘Total Mail Volume,’ ‘Total First Class Mail’ and then ‘Single-Piece FCM’ (stamped mail) – all continue the downward trend, as we have projected for years. Much of the volume decline is due to online bill payment and presentment, and that same disruptive technology is making package volume surge.”
Brennan didn’t have an immediate comment about the USPS OIG statistic on commercial First-Class mail.
The USPS OIG post says while commercial First-Class mail volume started declining in 1990, it dropped 1.6 percent in 2008 during the Great Recession. The post also puts forward Standard Mail as a bellwether of possible commercial First-Class mail recovery, as Standard Mail volumes “experienced a small uptick in 2013 and have flattened since then.”
Could the same be true for commercial First-Class mail? What do direct mailers think of this? Marketers, in general?
Please respond in the comments section below.
Related story: USPS: 'Letters Are Going Away'