The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is on the cusp of its busiest season. During the last few months of the year, people across the U.S. send out holiday cards to the masses and ship products to give as Christmas gifts—adding millions more pieces of mail and packages into the system. For an agency that has already been struggling with delivery delays due to financial shortcomings and staffing shortages, this increased holiday demand will be impossible to manage without implementing certain changes first. Read on to find out what major adjustment is coming to your mail, starting this Sunday.
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The Postal Service says it's been preparing for the upcoming holiday season.
The USPS appears to be working to stay ahead of the upcoming increased demand as it battles other ongoing problems. On Sept. 12, the agency issued a news release announcing several "critical investments" that have been made ahead of the 2022 holiday season. According to the Postal Service, preparations for this shipping season started back in January and are also part of the agency's Deliver for America plan, which is a 10-year initiative it kickstarted in 2021 to help it become self-sustaining and high performing.
"Successfully delivering for the holidays is a cornerstone of our Delivering for America 10-year plan," Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement. "Thanks to the 655,000 women and men of the Postal Service, recent investments and operational precision improvements, we are ready to be the most used delivery provider this holiday season."
Now, one of the planned changes is on the horizon—and customers may not be thrilled about it.
There's a new change coming for customers.
One of the improvements the USPS has planned for the holiday season is going to require customers to shell out more money. Back in August, the Postal Service announced that it had filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) about plans to temporarily hike prices for "key package products" ahead of the 2022 holiday season. The PRC has now announced this month that it has approved the temporary price adjustment, which is set to go into effect this weekend.
This price hike will "help cover extra handling costs to ensure a successful peak season," the USPS said, noting that it is similar to adjustments it has made in the past. According to CNN, the agency also temporarily raised prices in 2020 and 2021 to combat heightened demand and extra shipping costs during the holiday season.
The Postal Service's prices will be increased temporarily starting on Sunday.
The higher price rates will go into effect at 12 a.m. CT on Oct. 2, according to the USPS. They will remain in place through Jan. 22, 2023, and during this time, customers will need to pay increased costs on certain commercial and retail packages: Priority Mail Express (PME), Priority Mail (PM), First-Class Package Service (FCPS), Parcel Select, and USPS Retail Ground.
The planned price changes vary but you can expect to pay anywhere from 30 cents to over $6 more for your shipments. According to The Washington Post, how much extra you'll have to pay will "depend on the weight of the package and the distance it must travel."
"This seasonal adjustment will bring prices for the Postal Service's commercial and retail customers in line with competitive practices," the USPS said. "No structural changes are planned as part of this limited pricing initiative."
You should expect more permanent price hikes from the USPS in the future.
The Postal Service might only be raising prices temporarily during the holiday season, but that's not to say permanent price hikes aren't imminent. Despite the agency having already raised costs for customers several times over the last year, Postmaster General DeJoy recently warned Americans that he believes the agency needs to continue to make "more aggressive" changes to its pricing structure. During a public meeting with the USPS Board of Governors on Aug. 9, DeJoy warned that despite recent improvements, the Postal Service is still projected to lose around $60 to $70 billion over the next 10 years.
"As everyone knows, inflation has hit the nation hard, and the Postal Service has not avoided its impact. We expect inflation to exceed our expectations by well over a billion dollars against our planned 2022 budget," DeJoy explained. "Because of this, my recommendation to the governors will be to remain on course to raise prices again in January."