As the rush of the holiday season looms, you can expect certain types of mail sent via the U.S. Postal Service to take longer to arrive and cost you more.
The longer delivery times are set in perpetuity, though the price increase is temporary.
Here’s what you should know before the new USPS policies go into effect Friday, Oct. 1 and Sunday, Oct. 3, respectively.
Longer Delivery Times
In a move that the USPS says will “increase delivery reliability, consistency, and efficiency for our customers and across our network,” the service is slowing the time it promises for delivery of First-Class Mail and Periodicals, such as newspapers and magazines.
With the change, the postal service says most of the mail that falls in those two categories — 61% of First-Class Mail and 93% of Periodicals — will not be affected. The service says single pieces of First-Class Mail that are traveling within a local area should still arrive in two days. A local area is considered to be within three hours of the mail’s origin.
However, the same cannot be said if the mail is going a longer distance.
“The Postal Service will increase time‐in‐transit standards by 1 or 2 days for certain mail that are traveling longer distances,” USPS said in a news release. This longer time means USPS can use its ground network, which it says is more consistent and reliable.
This change is part of the USPS’ “Delivering for America Strategic Plan” as it works to meet a 95% service performance.
Holiday Mail Prices
Much like USPS did in 2020, the postal service is again implementing a “temporary price adjustment for key package products for the 2021 peak holiday season.”
This price change starts Sunday in anticipation of more people sending holiday packages, which in turn leads to more handling costs, the USPS said in a news release.
Packages sent by Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, First-Class Package Service, Parcel Select, USPS Retail Ground and Parcel Return Service are included in the holiday surcharge. International packages are excluded.
Increases start at 25 cents per package and go up to $5.
The prices will then drop back down to their normal rates on Dec. 26, the day after Christmas, USPS says.
“This seasonal adjustment will bring prices for the Postal Service’s commercial and retail customers in line with competitive practices,” according to the news release.
As USPS prepares for the holiday rush, it says it has continued preparing for “higher delivery demands.”
“Ongoing efforts have included the leasing of millions of additional square feet of sortation facilities, and the installation of new processing equipment to accommodate higher delivery volumes reflecting customers’ mail and package needs,” USPS said in a Sept. 17 news release. “Since April, the Postal Service has installed 61 of 112 new package sorting machines, reflecting the Delivering for America plan’s $40 billion of planned infrastructure investments over ten years.”