Winter 'Postal Sale' Taking Shape
Momentum is building at the USPS for a “Winter Sale” event to follow on the heals of the Summer Sale incentive for Standard Mailers. This latest incentive round would have some similar features, but also notable differences, from the previously announced Summer Sale incentive.
ACMA has put together a prediction for its members based on a variety of discussions with those knowledgeable and close to the situation in Washington. We believe it to be a reasonably accurate forecast of what will ultimately be offered, but mailers should know that nothing has been finalized by the USPS Board of Governors nor officially submitted to the PRC. Any of these parameters can still change completely. However, to give you the maximum possible time to prepare, we are sharing what we believe may happen in a few weeks or next month.
Here is what we expect: a new incentive will be filed with the PRC as early as next week (but more likely at the end of the month or even early October) that will offer the top 3,500 mailers (up from the 3,000 qualifying for the Summer Sale) an incentive to increase their mail volume from January to March 2010.
The incremental volume will receive a 30% discount (but it could be 25% or even 20% in the final version) on mail volume over that sent in the same period last year. In other words, any volume increase over what you mailed from the January 1 to March 31, 2009 time frame would qualify for the incentive rebate for the same period this next year.
Unlike the Summer Sale, there won’t be a comparative period to establish a trend line. The assumption is that by January 2009, Standard Mail volumes had already dropped so it is not necessary. As before, the discount would be applied as a rebate to your CAPS account (or other payment mechanism) sometime after the sale ends and the accounting is complete.
The USPS will “bookend” your mail volume to prevent load shifting from December 2009, or April 2010, by requiring you mail the same amount (or more) in these two months that you did in the same months of the prior year or face an adjustment to the rebate amount as is being made in the current program.
It is not clear how the PRC will view this new incentive proposal. We have been working to educate PRC staffers on the myriad of issues involved here. ACMA is helping to set up yet another meeting next month for the same purpose. At this point, I would handicap the likelihood of a Winter Sale at 75%.
The argument for a lower than 30% discount is that mail volumes are higher in January to March than they are in the summer. I have asked the USPS to consider moving this sale event a week or so earlier so the after Christmas drops can be considered. There is no word on this request as of today.
Those who have multiple titles under common ownership will have volumes combined, as was done previously. Let me know if this presents a problem for you. Most of the administrative mechanisms developed for the Summer Sale will be employed again for this incentive, assuming it materializes.
Hamilton Davison has been the President & Executive Director of the American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA) since its founding in April 2007. Prior to this, he consulted for an educational services start-up, created a specialty card and gift retail chain and grew it to more than 150 stores, was CEO of the oldest and third-largest greeting card publisher and manufacturer, and started an oil and gas exploration business. Mr. Davison’s involvement in postal affairs started in 1992 with his service on the Greeting Card Association’s postal affairs committee. He became chair and directed the litigation and witness team charged with protecting the GCA subclass against virtually every other mailer, helping bring his association from its nadir (losing a rate case appeal at the Supreme Court) to an established force in postal policy that was routinely consulted on all important postal policy issues. He championed and sold the Forever Stamp to many including proposing it to the Chairman of the Board of Governors.