Proposed Postal Changes May Result in Lower Rates for Catalogs
The postage rate changes proposed by the U.S. Postal Service on Oct. 12 are to go into effect on Jan. 22, 2017, pending approval by the Postal Regulatory Commission. The good news? This isn’t a flat-out rate hike; in fact, some catalog postage rates may actually decline. The changes include the following:
- Standard mail flats will increase by a weighted average of 2.5 percent, but Carrier Route (which is the rate that the largest portion of catalogs use) will decrease by 3.09 percent. High density also will decrease by 2.02 percent.
- FSS-specific rates for flats will be eliminated, allowing catalogers to claim the distribution rate for the distribution density their books qualify for, regardless of whether it's in an FSS zone or not.
- The maximum weight of catalogs that pay piece rates will increase from 3.3 oz. to 4.0 oz. This will allow catalogers to increase either their page counts or their paper weight and still be under the piece weight, allowing books to offer more pages and still fall under the fixed piece rate.
The American Catalog Mailers Association’s efforts in working with Postal Service officials to build out postage rates that make sense for catalogers and to bring down some postage rates is responsible for much of this great news. The ACMA’s advocacy has paid off in having a long-term dialogue with the Postmaster General and her executive team that has resulted in catalog postage going down while postal officials are able to claim that it will result in increased mail volume.
Catalogers need to work with their printers as well as the ACMA to estimate the impact of these changes and calculate their postage expenses come January 2017.
Jim Coogan is the founder and president of Catalog Marketing Economics, a consulting firm focused on catalog circulation planning.