US Postal Service (USPS) vehicle in residential neighborhood

US Postal Service Improves Delivery Performance Ahead of Busy Holiday Season

The US Postal Service (USPS) released updates on fiscal fourth-quarter service delivery performance, which shows steady improvements in the categories of First-Class, Marketing, and Periodical mail.

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The USPS says it has overcome storm-related challenges and continues to recruit thousands of employees for the upcoming holiday season peak.

Quarter-to-date service performance data for July 1 through September 30 included:

  • First-Class Mail: Delivered 88.0 percent of First-Class Mail on time against the USPS service standard, an improvement of 0.6 percentage points from the third quarter.
  • Marketing Mail: Delivered 92.6 percent of Marketing Mail on time against the USPS service standard, an improvement of 1.5 percentage points from the third quarter.
  • Periodicals: Delivered 82.1 percent of Periodicals on time against the USPS service standard, an improvement of 2.8 percentage points from the third quarter.

During recent weeks, service delivery has been affected in markets hit by Hurricane Ida, as well as by ongoing issues with employee availability due to COVID-19.

US Postal Service 10-Year Plan Aims to Improve Overall Delivery Performance

The US Postal Service’s 10-year plan, Delivering for America, aims to achieve or exceed its goal of 95 percent on-time service performance for all mail and shipping product deliveries when all the elements of the plan are implemented.

USPS measures service performance from the point of acceptance of mail into our system through delivery, based on published service standards.

The US Postal Service continued preparations for another busy holiday season include a national drive to hire delivery and plant personnel that is expected to result in an additional 40,000 seasonal hires by year-end.

It also leased 7.5 million square feet of additional space across more than 40 multiyear annexes that experienced year-round space constraints due to parcel growth. And USPS installed new processing equipment to accommodate higher volumes reflecting customers’ delivery needs.

Since April, the Postal Service has installed 75 of 112 new package sorting machines as part of its Delivering for America plan’s $40 billion of planned investment over ten years.

Additionally, over 50 package systems capable of sorting large packages are expected to be deployed before December, enabling USPS to handle 4.5 million additional packages that can be sorted each day utilizing newly deployed package sortation equipment.

Recent machine installations have occurred in Richmond (VA), Dallas (TX), Little Rock (AR), Pittsburgh (PA), Syracuse (NY), Ybor City (FL), Kansas City (MO), Harrisburg (PA), Little Rock (AR), Santa Barbara (CA), Jacksonville (FL), Chicago (IL), Lehigh Valley (PA), Anchorage (AK) and Cincinnati (OH).

What This Means for Online Sellers

While the US Postal Service improvements in handling parcels hopefully will avert the big debacle from last year, this is also the last report before USPS is implementing its controversial plan to slow down First Class and other mail services.

For sellers that rely on the lower-priced First Class Mail services to fulfill orders during the peak time of the holiday season, longer delivery times will likely become a problem again.

Hopefully, some improvements the Postal Service has made will at least improve Priority Mail shipments during peak, but likely there will be backlogs as large shippers, who may exceed contractual peak volume estimates with FedEx and UPS, turn again to the USPS to ship orders.

By law, USPS cannot reduce or throttle package intake, which was a key problem that led to last year’s shippagedon during the holiday season.

Note: Updated 10/12/2021 to include final performance data to September 30 and final number of package sorting machines added during the quarter.

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