In a move designed to streamline operations and save money, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will review more than 3,600 branches nationwide to decide which ones to close.
The post office in Holmdel is not on the list of branches under review that the USPS released today.
“Customers have shown us that they no longer need a brick-and-mortar post office,” Valerie Hughes, USPS spokeswoman, said. She pointed to the USPS’s automated postal centers, mobile apps and online services and as well as retailers that sell postage. Hughes said the USPS has seen a decline in post office visits that amounts to 200 million over the past five years.
Postmaster Patrick Donahoe referred to evolving customer behavior in making today’s announcement.
“Today, more than 35 percent of the Postal Service's retail revenue comes from expanded access locations such as grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, retail chains, self-service kiosks, ATMs and usps.com, open 24/7," Donahoe said in a statement to the media. "Our customer's habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business."
Review is first step, closure possible
The review process does not mean closure is a sure thing. The Huffington Post reports the USPS announced a review of 1,400 offices in January, but has closed only 280 of those so far and spared another 200.
According to an article from UPI, the closure review covers about 11 percent of post offices around the country. There are more than 31,000 in all.
The Huffington Post says the USPS lost more than $8 billion in 2010. Its article describes an alternative to the traditional branch, the so-called Village Post Office.
“By working with third-party retailers, we’re creating easier, more convenient access to our products and services when and where our customers want them,” Donahoe said today. “The Village Post Office will offer another way for us to meet our customers’ needs.”
Changing times, changing needs
The USPS began reviewing the viability of its branches in 2009, with a list of more than 3,300 branches. Most survived, with only about 170 still under review by year’s end.
In January 2010, the post office updated the Public Regulatory Commission on the review process, explaining the post offices that faced closure were “in relatively close proximity to one another where consolidations might be feasible without compromising customer access.”
In a USPS press release that month, Dean Granholm, vice president of Delivery and Post Office Operations, acknowledged “Consumer behavior is changing. It is important for the Postal Service to adjust to the shift.”