USPS delivery service continues decline

September 28, 2020

USPS delivery service continues decline

We mailers know very well that USPS delivery service performance dropped substantially as a result of the pandemic.  Using the third fiscal quarter of 2019 as a baseline, our table below shows that in the April-June 2020 quarter, roughly when the pandemic started its impact, First-Class Mail was down 2.56 percentage points, Marketing down 1.63, and Periodicals down 10.95.

How has service done since those first three months of the crisis?  Based on the latest weekly data released by USPS, two of the three classes continue to deteriorate: First-Class down another 4.07 percentage points to -6.63; Marketing down another 2.60 to -4.23; and Periodicals up only 0.13 to -10.83.  (For consistency, we are using FY19Q3 as the baseline.)

The Postal Service has not provided definitive diagnostic analysis to explain the continuing decline.  Our somewhat informed guess is that there are at least these two leading causes.  First, employee availability has been a problem since the beginning of the pandemic and could continue or even grow.  And second, the whole nature of the USPS operations is changing with a huge increase in package volume and continuing decline in mail.  A network designed primarily for letters cannot quickly and easily adjust to one delivering packages.

It is important to remember that the aggregate numbers for delivery service do not reflect all types of mail.  Mail drop-shipped deeply into the USPS system by the private sector is delivering much more on-time than mail entered at origin.

Percentage of Mail On-Time vs. USPS Delivery Standards

FY19 Q3: April – June 2019 – Pre-Pandemic

First-Class               93.38

Marketing                91.13

Periodicals               87.86


FY20 Q3: April – June 2020 – Pandemic – vs. FY19 Q3

First-Class               90.82                                                     -2.56

Marketing                89.50                                                     -1.63

Periodicals               76.91                                                    -10.95


Week of Aug 29-Sept 4, 2020 – vs. FY20Q3    FY19Q3

First-Class               88.04                              -2.78             -5.34

Marketing                89.56                             +0.06            -1.57

Periodicals               78.24                             +1.33             -9.62


Week of Sept 5-11, 2020 –           vs. FY20Q3    FY19Q3

First-Class               88.74                              -2.08            -4.64

Marketing                87.90                              -1.60            -3.23

Periodicals               80.32                             +3.41            -7.54


Week of Sept 12-18, 2020 –         vs. FY20Q3    FY19Q3

First-Class               86.75                              -4.07             -6.63

Marketing                86.90                             -2.60             -4.23

Periodicals               77.04                            +0.13            -10.83