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04

Jan 2016

Postage Rate Increase 2016

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Info on the 2016 USPS Postage Rate Increase

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will implement new postage rates on Sunday, January 17, 2016 for several mail classes and special services.

Summary of the 2016 Postage Rate Increase:

Domestic Mailing:

  • First Class Mail Letters (1 oz.) rates will not increase and will remain $0.49 when purchased at the Post Office. Each additional ounce will cost $0.22 (same as 2015).
  • The discounted “Metered Mail” category for First Class Mail Letters (1 oz.), which includes online postage providers and postage meters, will not increase and will remain $0.485 in 2016. Each additional ounce will cost $0.22 (same as 2015).
  • First Class Mail Flats (1 oz.) will not increase and will remain at $0.98 in 2016. Each additional ounce will cost $0.22 (same as 2015).
  • Postcard rates will not increase and will remain at $0.35 (same as 2015).

Domestic Shipping:

  • Priority Mail Express will see an average rate increase of 15.6% in 2016. Additionally, the Priority Mail Express Flat Rate Box will be discontinued in 2016.
  • After three years without a shipping rate increase, Priority Mail will see an average rate increase of 9.4% in 2016. Additionally, Priority Mail Regional Rate Box C will be discontinued in 2016.
  • First Class Package Service will see an average rate increase of 12.8% in 2016. Additionally, the maximum weight for First Class Package Service Commercial Base pricing (online postage) will be increased from 13 ounces to 15.99 ounces. Also, Commercial Plus pricing for First Class Package Service will be eliminated in 2016.
  • Parcel Select Nonpresort (purchased online) will be renamed to Parcel Select Ground in 2016. Standard Post will be renamed Retail Ground in 2016.

International Shipping:

  • Priority Mail Express International will see an average rate increase of 11.6% in 2016.
  • Priority Mail International will see an average rate increase of 10.2% in 2016.
  • First Class Package International Service will see an average rate increase of 21.6% in 2016.

Other USPS News:

  • Click-N-Ship Pricing: Starting in 2016, Commercial Base Pricing (online discounts) will no longer be available for the Click-N-Ship program for shipping labels printed on USPS.com. All pricing for the Click-N-Ship program will be Post Office/Retail Rates.
  • The U.S. Postal Service will discontinue the Critical Mail service in 2016.

This news means no changes to “bulk” presorted mailing postages so far for 2016.

Have any questions? Call us at 203-758-0430 email us at sales@accuratemailing.com

 

16

Sep 2015

USPS 2015 Fall Service Performance?

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Predicting the future is always difficult, but it’s critical for marketers to be at the top of their game when interacting with consumers.

With the instantaneous feedback that digital channels provide, it’s increasingly important for offline channels to have the predictability to connect the two. USPS delivery times have been anything but predictable this year. Referencing past year’s data to predict what may occur this year hasn’t been too successful.

2015 followed a volatile 2014 – the year that brought us ‘Load Leveling’. As a review, ‘Load Leveling’ was intended to even out the amount of mail the USPS had to process each day. The goal was to spread the heavy load of weekend processing into Monday/Tuesday and also to move the heaviest delivery day from Monday into Tuesday and Wednesday. To achieve this, the USPS Service Standards for Standard Mail delivered to an SCF on Friday or Saturday changed from 3 days to 4 days in April, 2014.

Load Leveling brought big changes to in-home curves. Mailers saw less mail arrive in-home the first few days of the Service Standard, no matter what day of the week their mail delivered to the USPS. Below we have the average in-home curves for April-August, 2013 and 2014.

On average, 5% of the mail moved from ‘early’ to Day 1 and 15% shifted from Day 1 to Day 2. The amount actually in-home did not get close to what we saw in 2013 until Day 3 of the target in-home window. This became the ‘new norm’ as the USPS has never committed to a certain amount of mail delivered each day within the Service Standard.

Entering 2015, we thought we had a handle on the ‘new norm’ and could reference the previous year to help determine how mail might move, at least after April. But another change affected Standard and Periodical mail delivery times that was not anticipated – the USPS Operation Plan change.

The Operation Plan change, which took effect January 5, 2015, was meant to process mail more efficiently by combining mail classes on the same machine whenever possible. This was supposed to lower costs. The only affect anticipated by the USPS would be to First Class mail; mail for the local SCF would no longer be in-home next day unless it was received at that SCF before 8:00 am (and most locations are not open until 8:00 am).

But the Operation Plan had unanticipated consequences that continue to affect all mail today. Initially, we were told that in many locations the USPS had not scheduled transportation between facilities appropriately to handle the change in timing of the processing. This caused delays in getting mail from one location to another and therefore in-home. These transportation issues were fixed by spring, however.

We believe labor is the issue that continues to cause slower delivery times this year. Labor was not cut under the new Operation Plan, but instead was moved around. This resulted in fewer ‘career’ employees processing the mail during the peak daytime/evening hours, and more part-time/casual employees being used instead. In theory this is positive, as it means the USPS can be more nimble in the use of their labor force – adding people when volumes are higher and reducing the number when volumes are lower. However, it appears this is not yet working very well, since part-time/casual employees are not as experienced as career employees and their productivity is lower. We think this may be the reason we continued to see slower mail delivery performance this spring and summer.

Below are the average in-home curves for April-July 2015, to compare to 2014 and 2013. This shows an average of 5% less in-home ‘early’ throughout the period compared to 2014 and 10% less in-home on Day 1. When compared to 2013, this is 10% less in-home ‘early’ and 20% less in-home through Day 1. Even through Day 2 and Day 3, we are seeing curves off by 10% and 5% respectively compared to 2013. Mailers are feeling this and have no means to counter it.

The reality is that the USPS is simply processing less mail in the first few days after they receive it than they did in 2013 and 2014 – due to Load Leveling and also the Operation Plan Change. So what will this mean for USPS delivery times for Fall, 2015?

We anticipate the trend we have seen since April will continue. We’ll see an average of 5% less in-home ‘early’ and 10% less in-home through Day 1 compared to 2014. Generally, the weeks that historically have the slowest performance will be the weeks USPS performance is slowest again this year. Those are listed below, in order of severity of delays. Note that in the first four listed here, one is not significantly worse than the others. All four are very poor.

First week of November
Last week of December
Second week of November
Week after Thanksgiving
Week after Labor Day – but with Labor Day so late this year, delays could shift to the holiday week.
Last week of September
Week of Thanksgiving
Month of October

The USPS is not closing any SCFs for the rest of 2015, which should mean less volatility in any one location. Locations that are struggling now, during the summer, are the ones most likely to have issues when the fall season hits. Today those include: N Houston TX, Brooklyn NY, Queens NY, Denver CO and Cleveland OH. And of course, weather can always throw us a curve ball!

Maureen Noe is a Sr. Consultant in Quad/Graphics Postal Solutions group.

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12

Feb 2015

What are the 2015 USPS Postal Holidays?

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Do you know the 2015 USPS Postal Holidays? If you are a professional mailer, commercial printer, non-profit, or planning a wedding, you just have to know what days the USPS will be closed this year. The postal holiday includes local post offices as well as bulk mail entry units (BMEU) for direct mail processing. This can have an effect on your drop dates, delivery dates, and in house dates. Also note that when there is a lot of snow impacting transportation and highways are closed (officially or not), mail will take longer to be delivered. Especially important for standard rate and non-profit rate mailers.

The 2015 USPS Postal Holidays are:

Thursday, January 1 – New Year’s Day
Monday, January 19 – Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday (observed)
Monday, February 16 – Presidents Day (observed)
Monday, May 25 – Memorial Day
Saturday, July 4 – Independence Day
Monday, September 7 – Labor Day
Monday, October 12 – Columbus Day
Wednesday, November 11 – Veterans’ Day (observed)
Thursday, November 26 – Thanksgiving Day
Friday, December 25 – Christmas Day

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