Is There Light at the End of the Postal Tunnel?
In this second of my two-part series, I’ll examine how the shape of your catalog and mail quantities effect on U.S. Postal Service processes may influence future rate increases. I’ll also provide some tips for preparing yourself now for these increases.
First, I don’t expect the USPS to eliminate the rate distinction between letters and flats. That said, the USPS will continue on the road to having shape reflected in its rate structure. Thus, the weight of a mail piece will continue to be less important than in the past. The increased reliance on shape in the last rate case reduced the effect of weight on postage. As such, heavier catalogs didn’t feel the full brunt of the last rate increase as the lightweight catalogs did.
New rate-making rules under postal reform also allow the Postal Service to consider market effects when setting rates. Therefore, the USPS might adjust rates to avoid volume loss, for example. Unfortunately, the entire dramatic effects of the May 2007 rate increase on catalog mail will not be known by the USPS when it announces its new rates in February. The USPS will announce the new rates at least three months prior to implementation to allow mailers and software providers to prepare.
Many catalog mailers have said the major shift in mailing will occur after the 2007 holiday season. In that light, the DMA and other mailer groups are urging the USPS to avoid major rate-relationship changes in the first rate change under the new law.
When the USPS looks to change rates again in 2009, it’ll then know the full effects of the extraordinarily high May ’07 rate changes. We’ll then work to have the rates adjusted to fully reflect the changes in the marketplace — both a drop in flat-shaped (catalog) mail and an increase in letter-shaped mail.