The announcement today by the United States Postal Service to discontinue Saturday delivery of first-class mail leaves the St. Michael U.S. Post Office in a phase of uncertainty.
"We just found out today as well," said Michelle Mattsen, Officer In Charge at the St. Michael branch. "We're not quite sure how that's going to work."
The change in the delivery schedule will be effective the week of Aug. 5, 2013 — first-class mail will only be delivered Monday through Friday from that point on.
However, mail addressed to P.O. boxes will continue to be delivered Saturdays, and post offices currently open Saturdays will continue those hours. Mail sent "express" instead of "first-class" will continue on Saturdays. Packages and parcels are also not affected — they will also be delivered Saturdays.
"Recent strong growth in package delivery (14 percent volume increase since 2010) and projections of continued strong package growth throughout the coming decade led to the revised approach to maintain package delivery six days per week," said Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General and CEO, in a written statement.
Mattsen said the change could affect the substitute postal carriers out of the St. Michael branch. Regular carriers work shifts five days a week, and substitutes fill in for the sixth day, which sometimes falls on a Saturday.
"Some of the subs are worried about losing hours," she explained. "I don't know exactly how it will play out."
The postal service attributes the change to ongoing financial challenges. It expects to save costs through this change by approximately $2 billion annually. In the past fiscal year, the postal service had a financial loss of $15.9 billion, according to a USPS document.
"By any measure, that is unsustainable," the USPS stated. "It's unacceptable."
The USPS says it is expected to operate like a business, but without the flexibility of a private sector business. All revenue comes from postage sales, and the postal service needs to make $20 billion in cost reductions to survive, according to information presented at a press conference Wednesday morning.
"We take no tax dollars," stated the USPS. "We want no tax dollars."
It also states that the response to halt Saturday delivery meets America's "changing mailing habits."
"We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings," said Donahoe.
Peter Nowacki, Minnesota's postal service spokesman said "it's too early to determine the impacts to individual post offices," in an email to St. Michael Patch. "Customers will only see change in that they won’t get their usual mail on Saturdays. Several national surveys have indicated about 70 percent support for this action."
Melissa Lins Harrison, founder and chief executive officer of Allée in Albertville says the change may not have a huge impact on her business. Allée is a marketing and creative services company.
"Though we do send things via 'snail mail' on occasion, most of our invoicing is done online or via email as are client contracts," Harrison said. "I think what it'll boil down to is more planning on the part of everyone. Change takes a while to get used to, but pretty soon it'll be the same as we know 'no mail service on Sundays' to be."
Academic All Star Tutoring of Albertville echoed the little impact on its business.
"Just like many of you, so much is done over via email and the internet these days," she said. "However, it may have a trickle down effect on many of us because postal workers will be losing hours and spending less."
St. Michael area residents Korey Avery and Chris Dorrity said to them, it's "one less day to receive bills," they wrote on St. Michael Patch's Facebook page.
Becky Hackenmueller wrote, "Saturday's mail is usually forgotten until Monday anyway, so it won't make much difference to us."
Some community members say they understand the postal service needed to make some cuts, while others wondered the how it would work out in times there's a heavier reliance on the post office — such as when sending Christmas cards.
"I just think that once it happens, many people waiting for that check, that gift, anything sent USPS, will wish it hadn't stopped on Saturdays," wrote Jenifer June. "I can't tell you the countless times getting my mail on a Saturday, made my weekend!"
Mattsen of the St. Michael post office says the change doesn't mean post office operations will stop for the weekend.
"The post office never stops, even if we're not delivering — we run seven days a week," she said. "The mail is always moving. Mail always has to get out, one way or another."