On April 18th, USPS announced that the Postal Regulatory Commission approved a measure to slow down delivery of certain long-distance parcels. As part of the 10-year plan to reform the Postal Service, this strategy will allow USPS to utilize more surface transportation and rely less on aircraft transport, which Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has labeled costly and unreliable. The biggest change that will affect small business shippers belongs to the new USPS service standards for First Class Package Service, which is the Postal Service’s most popular service for eCommerce shipments under 1 pound (lb).
First Class Package Delivery Estimates Will Change to 2-5 Business Days
Effective May 1st, 2022, USPS will start delivering nearly 33% of all First Class Package parcels one to two days later than the current service standards of 1-3 days. As a result, the new official USPS service standards for First Class Package will be 2-5 business days.
According to USPS, the agency will calculate new “time in transit” after May 1st based on length of haul; the further a package needs to travel, the longer USPS will take to deliver it (up to 5 business days). For reference, a package traveling coast-to-coast from New York to Los Angeles will likely take five days. Despite this, USPS will still deliver about 68% of First Class Package parcels between 2-3 business days. USPS will even upgrade about 4% of First Class Package volume up from three-day delivery to two business days.
The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) approved this initiative, which USPS first proposed last summer. Extending the delivery standards for long-distance First Class Package shipments will place put more packages in the Postal Service’s existing ground transportation network, which currently runs only about 40% full, according to the PRC.
Altering Service Standards for First Class Package Shipments will Reduce Reliance on Air Transport
Currently, USPS transports most First Class Package shipments via ground transportation. However, the PRC currently requires USPS to deliver all First Class Package shipments within the 1-3 business day timeframe, regardless of the length of haul. These requirements, consequently, force USPS to transport more packages in the air than the agency believes necessary.
These changes to the USPS service standards won’t affect other services like Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. USPS will still transport parcels sent via these two expedited services through aircraft transportation. However, while those services rely on air transportation, the Postal Service doesn’t own any aircrafts; instead, the agency relies on partnerships with passenger airlines and FedEx Express, the air and international unit of FedEx.