Postal Service announces study to examine usage of area post offices

The United States Postal Service announced Tuesday, July 26 that it will begin a study of 3,700 of its retail locations nationwide -- including the Towson Town Center location and 41 others in Maryland -- to look at usage and the viability of those locations.

The study does not mean necessarily that postal retail locations will close, said Freda Sauter, postal service spokeswoman. Sauter also said there is no timetable for completion of the study.

However, according to a postal service release, given the close proximity of some retail locations to others, as well as options available for purchasing stamps and receiving other services, the postal service is aiming to "right-size its expansive retail network" to better align its services with customer demand based on workload, revenue, and expenses.

"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, open 24/7," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in the statement. "Our customer's habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business."

Before any decisions are made regarding operations at the retail locations, the postal service will solicit opinions from the community at a public meeting. Notice of the meeting will be posted at the affected office.

Sauter said that in the past, retail locations slated for closure have remained open because of community input.

Should the listed locations need to be closed, the postal service has introduced a "retail-replacement" option or a "Village Post Office" as a potential replacement option.

The Village Post Offices would be operated by local businesses, such as pharmacies and grocery stores, and would offer postal products and services such as stamps and flat-rate packaging.

If a local retail office is closed, daily mail service to residences and businesses in the area would not be affected, Sauter said. Carriers would still deliver to the same customers, but from different locations.

Overall, the measures taken are meant to increase efficiency in the postal service in the face of a changing landscape, officials said .

"The Postal Service of the future will be smaller, leaner and more competitive and it will continue to drive commerce, serve communities and deliver value," Donahoe said.

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