Actually, the pronouncement isn’t really all that earth-shattering.
But the fact that “letters are going away” has been stated by a spokesperson for the United States Postal Service speaks volumes.
The comment came after a not-for-profit interest group calling itself the “Taxpayers Protection Alliance” released a video that admonishes the USPS to “stick to delivering our letters.”
In the cartoon video, a girl is mailing a holiday card to her grandmother while complaining that it’s getting harder and harder to send First Class mail.
Referring to the package delivery and grocery delivery services that the USPS now offers, the cartoon character pleads for the USPS “stop cutting mail services in favor of these other costly things and stick to what we really need them to do: deliver our letters.”
The Postal Service’s response can be summed up in two words: “Dream on.”
In fact, here’s what a USPS spokesperson stated to Target Marketing magazine about single-piece First Class mail, which includes personal correspondence and bill payments:
“[It] historically has funded the organization, since we do not receive tax dollars. Package volume is growing exponentially … The mail mix is changing and the Postal Service welcomes that change.”
Indeed, First Class mail volume — and particularly single-piece First Class mail — has been declining rapidly, as can be seen in the USPS’s annual volume figures shown below:
By comparison, package delivery has grown by nearly 20% over the past five years.
Target Marketing and others have done a bit of digging to learn more about the “Taxpayers Protection Alliance” … and they’ve discovered that the group is particularly perturbed about the USPS getting into the grocery products delivery business.
“Expanding services into the private market is not only wrong because it undercuts private competitors,” the TPA organization’s president David Williams complains, “but because it is coming at the expense of its government-granted monopoly – mail delivery.”
All of which makes it intriguing to speculate who is actually behind the “Taxpayers Protection Alliance” and what particular agenda they may have. Hint: private companies that offer grocery delivery services, perhaps?
But the bigger news is this: The USPS is no longer even pretending to claim that First Class mail is a central part of its business model looking to the future. And that’s a huge change from only a couple of years ago.