Post offices throughout the country, including in San Bernardino County, could soon close as a way for the United States Postal Service to save money.
The USPS lost $8 billion last year and because of that, it has decided to conduct a study of thousands of local post offices that could close. The Postal Service will review approximately 3,600 offices, most of which are in rural areas. Some of those offices, though, could be moved to offices in local businesses, town halls or community centers.
“Today, more than 35 percent of the Postal Service’s retail revenue comes from expanded access locations such as grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, retail chains, self-service kiosks, ATMs and usps.com, open 24/7,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a statement. “Our customer’s habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business. The Postal Service of the future will be smaller, leaner and more competitive and it will continue to drive commerce, service communities and deliver value.”
Although the USPS is reviewing thousands of offices it does not mean all of them will close. In January, the Postal Service announced it would review 1,400 offices for possible closure but so far 280 have been closed and 200 have finished review and will remain open – 620 are still in the review process and 300 will move to the new review list.
Although it is unclear how many of the roughly 3,600 offices will close, the office doors will begin to be shut within the next four to six months, with the first closing done by January.
Most of those under review are ones that have so little foot traffic that workers average less than two hours of work per day and the stores’ average sales are less than $50 a day, according to the Postal Service.
The USPS is taking these steps because the Internet has cut back on revenue typically earned through first-class mail – last year about 50 percent of bills were paid online instead of by mail, which is up from 5 percent a decade before that.
Besides possibly closing thousands of offices to save money, the Postal Service already has reduced its staff by 110,000 over four years and cut billions from its costs. It also has asked Congress to let it deliver mail five days a week instead of the current six-days-a-week amount to save $3.1 billion a year, and it has asked Congress to ease the requirement for an annual $5.5 billion payment to fund future retiree health benefits. The USPS also already has cut back the number of offices it has open from 38,000 offices 10 years ago to a little more than 31,000 now.
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