According to an editorial in the Observer-Reporter (Washington, PA), it’s time to end Saturday postal deliveries.
“The recent increase in the cost of a first-class postage stamp from 41 cents to 42 cents was hardly surprising, compared to the increased in the cost of gasoline, food and just about everything else,” said the paper.
“It could have easily been avoided, however. All the U.S. Postal Service needs to do to drastically cut expenses and the necessity for several future postal-rate increases is one simple thing: Eliminate Saturday delivery.”
And why should Saturday deliveries be curtailed?
“Just think of the amount of fuel that would not be burned if mail were not delivered on Saturdays,” said the paper.
“Most people,” continued the Observer-Reporter, “communicate with friends and family by e-mail now. Many receive and pay bills online. Most of what arrives in the mailbox these days is just junk mail, anyway.”
The thought that the Postal Service could cut costs by ending Saturday deliveries is no different than suggesting that hospital expenses could be reduced if only the emergency room was shut down on weekends.
The Postal Service has a high percentage of fixed costs — all those people, vehicles and local post offices. If local post offices are closed on Saturdays it means there is less volume to support the system but many of the fixed costs remain in place — you still need a given number of people, vehicles and facilities to reach almost 150 million physical addresses.
The Observer-Reporter says “most of what arrives in the mailbox these days is just junk mail, anyway.” In other words, advertising mail.
How is paper-based advertising sent through the mailstream any different than paper-based advertising delivered by the Observer-Reporter? Would the Observer-Reporter agree that it could cut its costs and save paper if only it would not carry advertising inserts one day a week? Think of all the fuel used by delivery trucks that could be saved if the Observer-Reporter published less often. Would not such economies please owners and shareholders?
A lot of newspapers and magazines go through the mailstream. In fiscal 2007, according to the Postal Service, 8.8 billion newspapers and magazines were delivered by mail.
Many communication companies that publish newspapers also have subsidiaries to market through the mailstream. Indeed, many newspapers offer “Total Market Coverage” plans that include postal deliveries. Surely it would not be good for TMC programs if the local post office was shut down on Saturdays.
Some TMC programs are huge. The Newspaper Association of America says that 3,520,000 million piece per week are delivered in Los Angeles, 2,385,371 in Chicago and 570,000 in Miami.
If advertising through the mailstream is not effective or productive, does it not make sense that advertisers would go elsewhere? Should not the marketplace decide such issues? In fact, according to Robert Coen, senior vice president, director of forecasting with Universal McCann, the huge advertising agency, advertisers in the world, advertisers now spend more marketing through the mailstream than through newspapers.
In the December 2007 issue of his “Insider’s Report,” Coen said that advertisers spent $60.998 billion with mail marketing in 2007 versus $42.94 billion with newspapers.
Although the Observer-Reporter is surely concerned by 42 cent stamps it somehow fails to mention the rates paid by newspapers — 13.6 to 16.8 cents per piece, according to the Newspaper Association of America.
The fact is that the U.S. marketplace is vast and all forms of advertising should be welcomed and encouraged because they stimulate sales and create jobs. That’s good for the economy, good for local communities and good for readers in Washington, PA.