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US Postal Service – Get Ready for Big Changes – Higher Prices and Slower Service Coming Early October

The US Postal Service announced earlier this year that it will begin implementing new service standards for First-Class Mail and Periodicals on October 1, 2021.

According to USPS, the plan will enhance delivery reliability, consistency, and efficiency for its customers and the entire postal service network.

In its Federal Register filing, the US Postal Service claims the expected delivery of First-Class Mail will have the following impact:

  • 61% of mail should not see any changes in delivery times.
  • 70% of mail should be delivered within 3 days or less.
  • The remaining mail should see 1 to 2 days in additional delivery time.

USPS also provided several end-to-end delivery time range estimates in another section of the filing. Within the contiguous 48 states and the District of Columbia, postal service delivery estimates are as follows:

  • First Class Mail – 1 to 5 days
  • Periodicals – 3 to 9 days
  • USPS Marketing Mail – 3 to 10 days
  • Package Services – 2 to 8 days

We suggest shippers look at the end of the document (Appendix A to Part 121—Tables Depicting Service Standard Day Ranges) that includes additional information for shipments going to, from, and withing Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and other US territories.

Holiday Season Surcharges

In addition to the new service levels going into effect on October 1, the US Postal Service is also implementing temporary peak season surcharges starting on October 3, 2021, which will remain in place until December 26.

These peak season surcharges impact a wide variety of mail services:

  • Priority Mail Express (PME)
  • Priority Mail (PM)
  • First-Class Package Service (FCPS)
  • Parcel Select
  • USPS Retail Ground
  • Parcel Return Service

Small business shippers that depend on postal services will face a double whammy with temporary price increases and slower delivery times.

We find it noteworthy that last week USPS didn’t issue a Service Alert about the upcoming peak season surcharges but issued a Service Alert about new service level changes.

This may suggest the US Postal Service expects the service level changes to have a noticeable impact on delivery of the impacted services, especially First-Class Mail, and that is not good news for online sellers.

Preparing for Changes

With about one week before both changes go into effect, online sellers should ensure their product listings reflect the peak season surcharges and adjust shipping times on items shipping First-Class Mail.

This is especially important if using free shipping, fixed price shipping, and if sellers have control to adjust estimated delivery times manually.

For marketplace sellers (eBay, Etsy, etc.) or sellers using eCommerce platforms (Shopify, BigCommerce, etc.) that offer dynamic pricing, the delivery estimates (and pricing) should adjust automatically.

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