The U.S. Postal Service, fresh off several consecutive significant price hikes, will not include a surcharge this peak season for mailers and shippers sending items during the holidays. The announcement marks a departure from recent USPS strategy, which has increased its prices between early October and mid-January for the last few years. Postal management pointed to its need to hire fewer temporary workers as the cause for the change and said the lack of a fee increase would give the mailing agency a competitive advantage over private shippers this year. USPS will bring on just 10,000 seasonal staff this year, down from 20,000 in 2022 and 45,000 in 2021.
Total Retail's Take: This should be welcome news to retailers, particularly those that are seeing an increasing percentage of their sales transacted online. The USPS is trying to position itself as the carrier of choice for retailers this holiday shopping season, many of which are trying to reduce costs as they battle a challenged consumer spending environment. Competitors such as UPS and FedEx have already announced they will add surcharges this holiday season. While the USPS is banking on increased volume from its attractively priced shipment options, retailers will be seeking out reliable, cost-efficient deliveries during their busiest time of the year. Getting products to customers' doorsteps for as little cost as possible is only part of the equation; getting them there in the timeframe promised is the other piece. This requirement ramps up even more during the gift-giving holiday season. We'll see if USPS is up to the task.