retail news in context, analysis with attitude

There are several stories out there addressing the impact of the decision by the US Postal Service (USPS) to end Saturday mail deliveries inAugust 2013. (Post offices will remain open, and mailmen will still deliver packages on Saturdays.) Cutting out Saturday mail delivery will save the USPS an estimated $2 billion a year.

Advertising Age reports that magazine publishers that have depended on Saturday deliveries are trying to figure out their options: "Some weeklies arrive at subscribers' homes during the week already and won't be affected. But others, such as The Week, deliberately try to show up in time for the weekend, when there's more time for reading -- and for shopping trips that might be influenced by ads in the issue.

"The Postal Service's move has been expected, however, so some publishers have already been exploring alternate delivery methods. Bloomberg Businessweek, for example, has been trying out using newspaper carriers in markets including San Francisco, Chicago, Washington and New York. But delivery by newspaper carriers is easier in cities than in suburban areas, where readers don't necessarily want their weekly issues thrown on the lawn."

The publishers of Time, which shows up in mailboxes on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays, depending on where you live, say they have been anticipating the move and are preparing plans to deal with it.

The Association of Magazine Media, a trade association, released the following statement: "While we have actively participated in conversations around postal reform, and in particular, five-day delivery, we did not expect the USPS would act unilaterally, without Congressional approval, and we await Washington's reaction and more details."

According to the Los Angeles Times, Hallmark Cards said that it "continues to believe a reduction in service will not induce customer loyalty and will negatively impact small towns and small businesses that depend on timely, affordable, reliable mail delivery. This move should only be considered once all other cost-saving options are fully explored and acted upon."

The Times also notes that while a company like Netflix might be expected to object to the move since it depends on its DVDs to arrive in people's mailboxes in a timely fashion, the USPS move may have a silver lining, since "the Postal Service's planned shift to five days of home delivery a week may make Netflix slightly more profitable by lowering the costs of sending out its familiar red envelopes with DVDs. That's because subscribers may end up receiving fewer DVDs for the same monthly price."
KC's View:
I still think that some companies and trade associations will try to pressure Congress into stopping the USPS from making this move, which will be ironic, since cutting out Saturdays may be too little, too late.

As for the publishers of magazines, they need to get over it ... because it won't be long before we're reading them on our tablet computers, and paper will seen as so 20th century.

I'm also not worried about coupons sent by mail ... since I think that inevitably, paper coupons will become obsolete.

Cutting out Saturdays will be seen as a problem by some. But it also may be an enormous opportunity.