USPS Is Axing Its Next Price Hike, Postmaster General Says
The agency won't levy its annual holiday surcharge, which has been added since 2020.
Price hikes aren't abnormal for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). In July, the price of the Forever Stamp went from 63 centers to 66 cents, having just been upped from 60 to 63 cents in January. These increases are part of the Postal Service's 10-year Delivering for America (DFA) plan, with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy telling Americans in 2022 that prices would keep going up at an "uncomfortable" rate. Now, DeJoy appears to be changing his tune a bit, as the USPS is axing its next price hike. Read on to find out why the Postal Service is scrapping its holiday surcharge.
A holiday surcharge has been added annually since 2020.
The holiday season is a hectic time for everyone, but the USPS is particularly busy. Over the past few years, the Postal Service was not only tasked with delivering gifts and packages, but it also faced higher year-end costs due to staffing shortages tied to the COVID pandemic, Federal News Network reported.
To combat this, the agency added a holiday surcharge during the peak season—much like those added by FedEx and UPS. According to Retail Dive, these surcharges date back to 2020.
"Prior to me being here, we never had an incremental charge," DeJoy said on Tuesday, per Federal News Network. "We put it in, because in my experience in the commercial business, when you have to do such exponential, extra work, you should, in fact, charge for it—and we did."
However, this policy is changing in 2023.
DeJoy says USPS will be the most affordable option this holiday season.
According to a Sept. 19 press release from the USPS, the Postal Service is nixing plans to add the holiday surcharge this year. This means that when it's time to mail out gifts, you won't be paying extra for residential area delivery, Saturday delivery, or for minimum volumes, the agency said.
"We are ready to handle any peak season volume in a superior and routine manner," DeJoy said Tuesday, per Retail Dive. "That is why we will not be adding any additional surcharges for our customers this peak period. We will continue to be the most affordable way to mail and ship during the holiday season."
In the release, the agency added that the decision not to levy additional charges creates "increased predictability in pricing for customers."
According to Retail Dive, both FedEx and UPS will still be adding peak season surcharges starting next month.
The Postal Service made this change following other improvements.
DeJoy said that the USPS is able to skip the surcharge because it made improvements in other areas, Federal News Network reported.
"We've made a lot of operational improvements that eliminated some of the extra activities that we had when I first got here," DeJoy said.
Specific improvements include offering better pay and benefits to career workers, Federal News Network reported—and over the holidays, the USPS will also hire fewer seasonal employees and rely instead on its career workforce. In 2022, roughly 20,000 seasonal workers were hired, but this year, that number will be cut in half.
In the press release, the USPS said that ahead of this year's peak season, it's also adding more new package sorting machines, increasing daily processing capacity, creating more reliable ground transportation, and offering a new shipping solution in the form of USPS Ground Advantage.
The USPS is committed to "outstanding service" during the holidays.
While the holiday season is always busy, DeJoy said he's not sure if the Postal Service will see higher mail volume at the end of 2023, according to Federal News Network. (During the 2022 holiday season, the Postal Service processed over 11.7 billion pieces of mail and packages, per the release.)
However, regardless of volume, the agency stressed its commitment to preparing and providing "outstanding service" this year.
"We understand the importance of every single package and letter that is sent during the holidays," DeJoy said in the release. "That is why we continue to adapt and execute on strategies to modernize and transform the Postal Service into the high performing organization the nation expects and deserves. I am confident in our ability to handle the peak season surge and deliver exceptional service to the American people during the holidays and beyond."