Heads up, postal customers! In case you missed it, new mailing and shipping rates for the USPS have been approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) and go into effect on Sunday, January 21. To keep pace with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the overall rates across mail classes will increase by just under 2%.
Pricing for shipping services remains more flexible to deal with market conditions and to maintain affordability for customers. And it’s worth noting that both FedEx and UPS are increasing their rates in 2018 as well.
To prepare your organization for the future – and help you implement cost-saving strategies - we’ve summarized some of the coming changes in this article. Please keep in mind that there are many variations based on the class of mail, its use of automation, etc.
Also, our experts can work with you to handle the impact these changes may have on your bottom line, and provide options.
First Class Mail - Retail
First class stamped letters of less than 1 ounce will increase from $.49 to $.50.
First class metered letters of less than 1 ounce will increase from $.46 to $.47. This change keeps the 3-cent differential between stamped and metered mail, which especially benefits small and medium-sized businesses.
First class domestic postcards increase from $.34 to $.35.
First class flats/large envelopes increase from $.98 to $1.00.
For parcels of 1 to 3 ounces, the rate jumps from $3.00 to $3.50.
A big plus: the cost for additional ounces per piece for both letters and flats remains the same in 2018 at $.21.
First Class Mail - Commercial
USPS Postal Rates for letters and postcards move little from last year, reflecting a preference to make automation as attractive as possible. At the 5-digit level, for example. 1-ounce letters go from $.373 to $.378. Postcards increase from $.253 to $.257.
For 5-digit flats, though, rates jump from $.446 to $.474. However, the rates for other presorted categories show decreases. 3-digit automation rates drop from $.630 to $.593 per piece.
Marketing Mail (formerly Standard Mail)
Seven products make up USPS Marketing Mail - Letters, Flats, Parcels, High Density and Saturation Letters, High Density and Saturation Flats and Parcels, Carrier Route, and Every Door Direct Mail.
First, the best news: letter rates remain nearly flat compared to 2017. For example, letters at the 5-digit rate will see no increase, remaining at $.251 per piece. And AADC rates are slightly ticking up to $.274.
Not too bad.
For flats, 5-digit mailings go from $.387 to $.393 a piece. Slight rate adjustments were made for AADC (up) and mixed AADC (down).
For nonprofits, it’s a little more of a mixed bag. 5-digit letters will see an increase to $.136 from $.134, while AADC letter efforts go from $.154 to $.159. For flats, the 5-digit rate sees a big cut, from $.244 to $.227.
USPS Governor Vacancies
Another issue affecting postage pricing is the lack of any promotions for 2018. In recent years, mailers have been incentivized by USPS to invest in the future by using innovative direct mail techniques, including integrating mobile technology.
By law, the approval of the Board of Governors is needed for USPS to move forward with any limited-time special incentives. Unfortunately, because of delays and blocks in the U.S. Senate over the past several years, there are currently 9 vacancies on the board, leaving Postmaster General Megan Brennan and the deputy PMG as its only members. Although the President nominated 3 individuals for the board in late October, no action has yet been taken by the Senate, nor have additional nominees been announced.
Along with iffy prospects for the passage of postal reform legislation in Congress, it is unlikely that any promotions will be approved for 2018.
Ideas In Action
- Small mailers with first class campaigns of less than 500 pieces should think about surpassing that limit to qualify for lower commercial rates.
- Use Full Service Intelligent Mail Barcode (FSIMb) to receive a 3-cent per piece discount for First Class or Marketing Mail. This is unchanged from 2017, and is something you should be using anyway.
- Here’s a true bargain worth considering: first class presorted letters weighing up to 3 ounces can still mail for the same rate as one-ounce letters! This is an opportunity to include additional marketing elements in your direct mail package that can inform, help and/or persuade your prospects and customers.