Now is the winter of our (mail) discontent

By Carolyn Angelini, Director of Resource and Postal Affairs, Production Solutions

Last month, we warned that a combination of record-high package volume and short staffing at USPS would lead to delays.

And, boy, did it.  First Class Delivery in December averaged around 6.8 days which is about two days slower than November and the average for 2020.  It’s also three days slower than December 2019.  Our nonprofit was two days slower than last December and 1.4 days slower than the 2020 average.

Further, it wasn’t just these average delays — the variability increased significantly as well.  Some mail was delivered same as always; others were delayed by a week or more. 

This is all directly related to those Post Office struggles we discussed.  We’ve been tracking delivery closely for some time; we’ve never before seen such an impact to delivery in both the length of days and depth of facilities impacted.

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that we are coming of it.  So far in January, we’re not quite back to normal, but First Class mail delivery Is already one day faster on average than December. As for Marketing Mail, we are almost entirely back to normal.

There are still Postal facilities that are falling below standard:

  • First Class Letters: Baltimore, Denver, Detroit, Greensboro, Harrisburg, Houston, Minneapolis, Richmond
  • First Class Flats: Springfield, MO, Wilmington
  • Marketing Mail: Detroit, Philadelphia, Richmond

So, what does this mean for you?  All reports are the year-end mailings did well as a continued part of the COVID-19 bump, but that it’s a longer tail than usual — those gifts are taking longer to comein.  This data would tend to show it’s not you; it’s not your cager; it’s the increase in time it took for your piece to get in home and the time for the gift to be returned.  And, more importantly, this ripple in the system seems to be decreasing with things returning to what passes for normal nowadays.

Since December likely ruffled a few board member feathers for those counting on end of year donations, tell your partners to keep a close eye on Mail Track Reporting.  By reviewing both the outbound as well as Inbound Mail Tracking data unique to your program you will better be able to understand how delays in the mail have impacted your results and return curves.

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