How much does your business rely on the U.S. Postal Service? According to government research scheduled for release at a congressional hearing today, the Internet could threaten the Postal Service's ability to provide universal service in the future.
As we turn to the Internet as an alternate means of sending documents and conducting business with our clients, the Postal Service is expected to experience the impact of this e-competition. Although the Postal Service reportedly achieved record earnings during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, first-class mail volume is expected to peak in 2002 and then decline at an annual rate of 2.5 percent from 2003 to 2008.
So, what does this mean for us? The report speculates that the Postal Service may have to close some 38,000 post offices during the next decade. Other possibilities include reduced postal office hours, higher rates, and premium charges for providing service to remote destinations.
The Postal Service's saving grace may lie in shipping packages of goods that are purchased over the Internet. However, the government report cautioned that even this may not be enough for the Postal Service to maintain ongoing universal service.