The U.S. Postal Service’s proposed annual price increases for mailing periodicals are relatively moderate and in line with inflation, according to the National Newspaper Association.
The Postal Service is required by law to maintain rates within the Consumer Price Index. The new rates will take effect in January if approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission.
The average increase for within county postage will be just under 1.5 percent and for outside county about 1.9 percent. Both of those rates are within the rate cap set by the Postal Regulatory Commission of 1.9 percent, NNA President Matt Adelman said.
There are variations within rate categories, Paul J. Boyle of the News Media Alliance noted. Rates for saturation/high density plus/high density flats, which are the typical rate categories for newspapers’ total market coverage products, increased by less than 1.9 percent, and in some cases not at all. For example, a six-ounce saturation flat entered at a local post office will receive a 1.46 percent rate increase.
The highest increase proposed is for periodicals that are mailed outside the county in sacks, trays and bundles because the postal service wants publishers to prepare more carrier route pieces, according to Boyle.
NNA continues to stress to USPS that printers need incentives to lower the postal handling costs of containers of newspapers. The plastic sack is the container most commonly used to mail newspapers. Its price rises 6.8 percent at the carrier route/5 digit level when entered at the origin office, to $3.93. The sack was hit with an increase of nearly 10 percent last year, as USPS tried to recover the increasing cost of mail handling. White flats trays or tubs, which USPS says it prefers for efficient handling, are charged the same price as sacks, even though most experts believe the trays are less costly for USPS to handle.
“This conversation about flats trays has gone on with USPS for more than a decade now,” Adelman said. “We continue to urge publishers to use them, but we recognize that many printers think they take up too much room in the shop and in the delivery vehicle. With every possible efficiency — including good use of space — needed right now in our end of the business, we are urging USPS to recognize their preference for the trays with a pricing signal.”
In a press release, Postal Service officials said 1.9 percent is the average proposed increase for all mailing service product prices. Proposed shipping services price increases vary by product. For example, Priority Mail Express would increase 3.5 percent and Priority Mail would increase 4.1 percent on average. Shipping services prices are primarily adjusted according to market conditions rather than the Consumer Price Index.
If favorably reviewed by the Postal Regulatory Commission, the new prices will include no increase in the price of a First-Class Mail Forever stamp, which would remain at 55 cents. The single-piece letter additional ounce price would remain at 15 cents. Also unchanged would be the prices of postcard stamps at 35 cents and 1-ounce flats at $1.