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Sweeping Postal Service Changes Could Impact Local Businesses

Responding to declining use of snail mail, the Postal Service is looking for ways to save money.

The U.S. Postal Service is thinking big with cost-saving plans announced Monday — $20 billion by 2015.

Closure of up to 252 mail processing plants is part of the plan, along with the end of overnight delivery for first-class mail. Letters — as well as many bills and bill payments — would have a 2-3 day service standard.

Will these high-dollar, nationwide changes have any impact on small, local businesses in an increasingly electronic world? They might.

At in Whitefish Bay, co-owner Terry Stuhlmacher said they still pay most of their bills through the mail, with about 50 pieces of mail going out every week. He said if the delivery time changes, they will have to mail some things out eariler, and consider paying some bills online.

"That's probably going to be the future," Stuhlmacher said. "It's too bad, but I guess it's just something that has to be done. People are going to be more and more inclined to pay online."

Sean Hargadon, Postal Service spokesman, said the number of people who pay bills online has grown from 5 percent to 60 percent in the last decade.

The "electronic migration" is happening in personal communication, too.

Laura Fabick, who has owned in Fox Point for 12 years, said she has witnessed many customers, particularly younger ones, relying more on email for sending invitations and letters. However, a stationary-loyal customer base has kept her in business for years, and she doesn't expect them to go anywhere with the delivery standard changing.

"They're kind of entrenched in their ways," Fabick said. "You'll always have your clients that will always send a formal invitation or thank-you note through the mail, and those people have stayed true to that."

However, as the younger generation takes over more of the market, Fabick thinks things will change.

"People who've had years of experience sending and receiving letters appreciate that," she said. "The younger people who haven't, don't appreciate that. The way they know is email. It's a changing world."

The USPS changes are a reaction to steep decline in usage of first-class mail, which generates about 49 percent of the Postal Service's revenue, according to Chief Financial Officer Joe Corbett. In the last 10 years, single-piece first-class mailings decreased by 50 percent.

The Postal Service ended its 2011 fiscal year in September with a net loss of $5.1 billion.

Among the mail processing plants being examined is one in Kenosha. Hargadon said if that plant, which is part of a post office, closes, the post office will stay open and the two processing machines will move to the Milwaukee processing plant. Collectively bargained agreements ensure that no workers lose their jobs.

The proposal will go the Postal Regulatory Commission for an advisory opinion, and will likely move forward in April.

Bob McBride December 08, 2011 at 05:18 PM
The plan also calls for laying off 28M people nationwide. Isn't that interesting? No jobs moving to China, no evil corporations selling out the American worker. Just a matter of new technology and a change in consumer habits as a result of that new technology. Something to think about next time we're wondering where all those "middle class" jobs went and start looking for some boogieman to blame.
235301 December 08, 2011 at 07:10 PM
But, but, this is another attack on the poor and the elderly! The poor and the elderly don't have the ability to pay their bills online much less internet connections. The mail is literally their lifeline to the outside world. This has to be the work of the Koch Brothers. What do they stand to gain from this action? Just one more in a long line of buggy whip mftrs->typewriter mftrs->mail service. One constant these days is change. Either embrace it or get run over by it. And if you get run over by it it's no one's fault but your own.
AWD December 08, 2011 at 07:59 PM
What's that song? 'Internet killed the slow shuffling over paid, over compensated union postal carrier?'
Jay Sykes December 08, 2011 at 08:14 PM
If only ALGORE had not invented the Internets.(sigh)
Steve December 09, 2011 at 04:42 AM
I blame bush and walker and hope and change
Keith Schmitz December 09, 2011 at 01:38 PM
I am sure you made what was an offhanded remarker Jay, but thanks for illustrating what's wrong with this country. No, Al Gore didn't invent the internet. This was a statement that was put in his mouth by Maureen Dowd and then the wingers ran with it to make Gore look pompous and self-centered. Vint Cerf, who was one of the people who did "invent the internet" points out that Al Gore was the first political leader with the foresight to give it the launch it needed with the help of government -- http://www.eecs.umich.edu/~fessler/misc/funny/gore,net.txt. Of course that last part is something the right wing is loathe to acknowledge in any case. In smart countries someone like that would be lionized. But in this one, we are beset with yahoos who are given a public platform (not referring to you Jay. You are just repeating the stupidity). No wonder we are sliding into the crapper.
Keith Schmitz December 09, 2011 at 01:41 PM
The cuts really have nothing to do with the brilliant reasons pointed out here, but the fact that the Post Office has to pay off their 50 years of pensions in 10 years as mandated by Congress (GOP vintage). This is two birds with one stone. Yet another mindless attack on unions, and an opportunity for the GOP's business friends to get their hands on something else. But of course for the congress of dolts that show up here, that's peachy wonderful.
Jay Sykes December 09, 2011 at 01:47 PM
'Keith for Postmaster general !'
Bob McBride December 09, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Good point, Jay. It took the post office 20-some years to figure out it had a major problem coming on. Why not put in charge another rube who doesn't get it?
Jay Sykes December 09, 2011 at 02:01 PM
Yes Keith, the remark was kind of twisted and mis-attributed to Al. Using the plural 'internets', was something he did, though. Bottom line is the Post office needs to 'rightsize', and lower costs, union or not. Oh, nothing wrong here, we don't need to take ourselves so seriously 24/7.
235301 December 09, 2011 at 02:32 PM
@Keith: paper mail delivery is a dying business. Technology has made much of it obsolete. Very similar to paper bookstores. Consider that first class mail volume has dropped 50% in 10 years. Now extrapolate that out another 10 years. It's a dying business. The USPS will look markedly smaller in 10 years and in 75 years? Probably will be part of the history books. So why would you give the USPS 75 years to pay off a known debt when it likely won't exist in 75 years? Make them pay that down now. It seems like every time our government has a chance it defers spending on something and leave it to the next generation to figure it out. It's actually refreshing to see an action like this one. I see the USPS trying to change course and get more into the shipping business and that is really the only strategy they have left. Whether or not they can gain traction against the UPS and FedEx's of the world is another question.
Keith Schmitz December 09, 2011 at 02:47 PM
I know you threw it out as a joke Jay, but it is really irritating that it is out there in the first place plus this was an opportunity to point it out. But as to the Post Office, true the volume of mail is going down but... 1) The pension requirement is a big blow to the USPS 2) This is yet another mindless privatization move the by the right 3) Eliminating next day first class deliver is, for all you business fans, bad for business
Keith Schmitz December 09, 2011 at 02:50 PM
UPS and FedEx does not have the artificial burden that the USPS has. And until molecular transporters can be perfected, there still will be a tremendous volume of physical mailings. And with the right, it's all politics all the time.
Keith Schmitz December 09, 2011 at 02:51 PM
At this point Bob I'm knocking off the personal invective. It's stupid and I hope you join in. Maybe we could stick to the issues.
Bob McBride December 09, 2011 at 02:57 PM
We'll see how long that lasts.
Bob McBride December 09, 2011 at 03:07 PM
3) Eliminating next day first class deliver is, for all you business fans, bad for business. ********************** Mostly the periodical business, another dying industry. Businesses come and go via a form of economic natural selection that doesn't appeal to those who a) don't understand the foundation behind their existence in the first place (hint: it's not to provide jobs) and b) think they can stave off what they view as undesirable change via political maneuvering. In truth, those folks, who call themselves progressive are desperately hanging on to a present that's quickly becoming a past that's not coming back, no matter how hard they wish it to be so. Not exactly regressive, but certainly not progressive. Maybe they should be referred to as the "stagnati". Yeah, I kind of like that.
Jay Sykes December 09, 2011 at 03:07 PM
@Keith....The 'new delivery standard' is the exact same delivery standard that the Post Office held until 1971. About 20% of the mail that makes it in one (1) day today will now take two (2) days;same as in 1971. They can never compete with FedEx, UPS, FAX, email, electronic funds transfer.
235301 December 09, 2011 at 03:21 PM
@Keith: Careful, you are turning into the left version of AWD by making wrongheaded, blanket statements. I think anyone with half a brain realizes the USPS is a dead man walking. Like many parts of the federal government(I know it's privatized but it's still controlled by the fed govt) it's a pseudo welfare system for those that wouldn't be able to make it out in private industry. That's what makes it such a darling of the left. UPS and FedEx do many of the same jobs better and more efficiently. Let it die if it cannot compete and do it so it doesn't burden the taxpayers. Latest figures show that the bulk of paper mail now is junk mail. Why should the taxpayers pay for that? If the bulk mailers want this service then let them subsidize the USPS. The rest of us have figured out how to do just about everything electronically. And for the rest it's UPS or Fedex.
Greg December 09, 2011 at 06:09 PM
Didn't the USPS just run a series of ads stating what a great job they are doing while being self funded? Solara did a great job too... My personal invective itches.
Keith Schmitz December 09, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Look, we can continue to shoot ourselves in the foot by letting China eat our lunch on alternative energy projects, but the fact of the matter is that though Solyndra, similar projects are on track -- http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/15/business/la-fi-1015-solar-loans-20111015. We cannot afford to have that happen.
235301 December 09, 2011 at 10:42 PM
@Keith: Solyndra was a massive fraud. I'm sure there won't be a real investigation while Obama is still in office but once he's out the leash will be off the dogs. This will not end well for many involved. The US taxpayer was conned out of $500M. I agree we have to continue to push our competitiveness, especially in the area of alternative energy. Even if that alternative energy is shale oil, natural gas and coal.
Greg December 09, 2011 at 10:53 PM
A fool and his money will soon be parted, ask the green energy leaders in Europe. Unfortunately this is another $7.1 BILLION of our money spent in the name of the fictional global warming. They did not state the premium that this power will be sold at, or should I say, jammed down the consumers throats.
AWD December 10, 2011 at 12:40 AM
Full privatization of the USPS, or, some form of contracting it out to FedEx, UPS, etc.
Jay Sykes December 10, 2011 at 01:49 AM
@AWD... in 2010 UPS did $95 Million and FedEX $1.4 Billion in contract work for the USPS. The list of the top 150 suppliers to USPS in 2010: http://www.huschblackwell.com/images/PostalResources/USPSsuppliersFY2010.pdf

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