Postal Service partners

You may not be able to receive letters and other forms of conventional mail on Saturdays before long, if the U.S. Postal Service has its way. But you might be able to receive a Sunday shipment of books, movies or other goods you ordered from Amazon.

The world’s largest online retailer announced Monday that it is teaming up with the Postal Service to offer Sunday delivery at no extra charge. The plan will be implemented first in New York and Los Angeles, but it is expected to be available in most of the rest of the country next year.

We’ve long been critical of the Postal Service and its efforts to make up for its growing financial losses by turning itself into a home-delivery service for advertisers.

However, this partnership with Amazon is a sensible idea to mesh the Postal Service’s nationwide delivery system with a 21st century retailer to benefit both entities and consumers, as well.

It’s well known that the Postal Service has been bleeding red ink for a number of reasons. Some are problems inflicted by Congress, such as a requirement that it prepay more than $5 billion a year into a fund to handle future payments to retirees — something few other private or government entities must do. Additionally, Congress has shot down many of the agency’s efforts to cut costs by closing little-used rural post offices or ending Saturday mail delivery.

But a huge part of the Postal Service’s problems is more fundamental. Simply put, its primary service — delivering conventional mail — is falling victim to electronic communications. Why write letters when you can send an email or text message or post to social media much more immediately and at less cost?

At the same time, the market for package delivery has continued to grow, especially with online retailing. In that regard, the Postal Service is competing with two major private companies, FedEx and UPS, and a number of smaller ones.

Even so, Postal Service package delivery grew from 3.3 billion items in 2011 to 3.5 billion in 2012, according to The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, Amazon has been stymied in its efforts to offer seven-day-a-week delivery to its customers because the primary delivery services all charged a premium for Sunday delivery.

Postal Service officials said under the new agreement with Amazon, the agency will use part-time employees to handle the Sunday deliveries initially. If the volume of packages is expected to be particularly large on a given Sunday, the service will boost its staffing.

This agreement alone isn’t likely to end the Postal Service’s multimillion-dollar deficit each year. But it is a step toward accomplishing that in a way that keeps the agency in the forefront of modern society, rather than a fading relic from past centuries.


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