A silver lining in postal price increases. . .

From the cost to fill up your stomach with food to filling up your tank with gas, it seems like there is this never ending parade of news showing yet another type of price increase.

Well the USPS is marching in the parade. Effective April 17th, the USPS will increase rates an average of 1.7 percent. The rate increase will have little to no impact on the retail customer as First-Class Mail letters (1 oz.) remain unchanged.  However, the increased rates will affect three main services:

• First-Class Mail additional ounces rate increases from 17 cents to 20 cents
• Postcards rate will increase to 29 cents (was 27 cents)
• Letters to Canada or Mexico (1 oz.) increase to 80 cents

The price increase goes into effect just in time for those who are last-minute income tax filers. The IRS expects approximately 30 percent of federal tax returns by mail this year. But the real impact will be mostly will be on businesses not on individuals. The post office has been struggling financially as businesses have utilized the Internet for bills and payments that the USPS used to handle. Add the nation’s economic slump, which reduced advertising mail over the last several years, and the net result is a loss of $8.5 billion last year.

It will cost advertisers more to flood your mailbox with sales offers and publishers will face higher charges to send you their magazines Prices will also change for other mailing services, including Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services. Larger volume business mailers will see price increases in a variety of categories. Detailed pricing information is available online at www.usps.com/prices.

There is some good news however as Printers and Direct Mailers will see a break this summer. The USPS announced that it is set to offer a special 3% discount in July and August for any letters or flats if they include two-dimensional mobile barcodes that can be read by consumer smartphones. (aka, QR Codes) Direct mailers in the US can see for themselves the benefits of linking smartphone technology with the physical mail. The USPS hopes its summer sale will help to highlight the potential for mobile technology to be used in conjunction with the physical mail to offer better response rates for direct marketing campaigns.

Silver lining? Stay tuned as this should be an interesting summer.

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