Federal Eye
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 11/18/2011

How bad is it at the post office? Here are the numbers.


(Timothy Fadek - Bloomberg)
Loyal readers of The Federal Eye regularly complain about the long lines and grumpy postal workers working at the neighborhood post office.

But visits to the local post office are way down, if you believe a new watchdog report.

There were 59 million fewer visits to post offices in 2010 than in 2009, and visits are down 21 percent over the last decade, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. (Ironically — despite searching high and low for a number — the report doesn’t actually say how many visits were recorded in 2010.)

The report urges the U.S. Postal Service to do a better job of planning for the future of its retail network, which is more likely to include what GAO describes as “retail alternatives,” including self-serve kiosks and smaller shops located within large supermarkets or retailers like Office Depot or Target.

“Although the public increasingly uses postal retail alternatives, more widespread adoption will be needed if USPS is to close thousands of post offices as planned in the next few years,” GAO said. “USPS has projected that by 2020 alternatives to post offices will account for 60 percent of its retail revenue.”

And how are those alternative options doing? Take a look:

— According to the Postal Service, visits to USPS.com have jumped to 413 million visits annually in 2010 — up by 100 million since 2006. The site generated $640 million in revenue in 2010.

— There are 2,500 self-service kiosks nationwide that generated $580 million in fiscal 2010.

— There are more than 56,000 sites nationwide selling stamps, but revenue dropped in 2010 to about $1.1 billion annually, down slightly from 2009.

Lawmakers who requested the report said Thursday that they hope to incorporate it into future proposals to overhaul USPS.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

If you have a moment, please also read:

GRAPHIC: Is my post office closing?

Postal Service resumes payments to federal retirement fund

Postal Service posts $5.1 billion loss

For more, visit PostPolitics and The Fed Page.

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 11/18/2011

 
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