The plan to preserve rural post offices has been further explained by David F. Martin, USPS district manager in this area.
He said the plan, announced earlier, is to modify retail window hours while still achieving savings in labor costs.
He explained that access to the lobby and P.O. boxes will remain the same and a community will retain its ZIP code. The counter hours will depend on the level of activity in each post office. Under this plan, it is estimated that the USPS can realize more than a half billion dollars in annual cost savings. This will give the USPS stronger financial footings, Martin said.
“Later this year, public meetings will begin with affected communities to gather feedback on this and the other options: establishing mail delivery service to residents and businesses by either rural carrier or highway contract route; contracting with a local business or community venue to create a Village Post Office; or providing service from a nearby post office.
“Some communities may opt for a Village Post Office where a local business, like a grocery store, can provide more convenient access to postal products and services 12 hours a day, seven days a week,” according to Martin.
“Additionally, the postal service continues to expand alternative access with usps.com and the new smartphone app where customers can buy stamps and print shipping labels without leaving their home. In addition to online offerings, customers have postal access at more than 70,000 retail partner locations across the country including Wal-Mart, Staples, Office Depot, Walgreens, Sam’s Club, Costco, and many others. In fact, nearly 40 percent of all retail sales for the Postal Service come from online purchases or at approved postal providers,” Martin said.
“Even as more and more people shift to alternate access, there is still a desire to keep post offices open in rural America. However, 88 percent of small rural post offices do not cover the operating costs to keep the facility open. Customer visits to the ‘brick and mortar’ Post Office have declined by more than 27 percent since 2005 with 350 million fewer visits a year.
“As the Postal Service leaves no stone unturned in achieving cost reductions to return to financial stability, it has not forgotten its fundamental role in delivering for the American public and providing universal access to its products and services,” Martin asserted.