The US Postal Service released a list of 3,653 offices that may close this year in efforts to reduce costs. Most of the offices on the list of possible closures are rural, smaller offices with annual revenues of about $27,000 or less. The list even includes Ben Franklin’s original post office, which opened 236 years ago in Philadelphia.
If the offices close it will be the largest downsizing the US agency has ever experienced. It is the latest cost cutting measure that the troubled postal system has rolled out. The closures are expected to save around $200 million. However, the postal service still is facing a $8 billion deficit due to lagging mail volume.
Between 4,000 and 4,500 postal employees are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the office closures. But beyond the jobs that this will impact, the people who use the post offices also will have to change their habits. The Postmaster General envisions a third-party retailer system where convenience stores or drug stores will offer postal services in places that may no longer have a post office. Placing postal services inside existing shops could cut costs and actually be more convenient for customers, he argues.
According to the US Postal Service more and more people are using the Internet to access postal services. About 35% of the postal services revenue comes from usps.com, smartphone applications, self-service kiosks, and other locations.
People aren’t too happy with the thought of closing some rather beloved little post offices around the country. But is the reaction due to nostalgia rather than practicality? Is the traditional brick-and-mortar post office becoming obsolete? Does the United States still need a network of some 32,000 post offices or can people send and receive mail perfectly fine without ever having to visit an actual post office?