The U.S. Postal Service said Thursday it will adjust the delivery times for two of its ground-parcel products despite a lukewarm endorsement from the agency overseeing some of its operations.
Starting Aug. 1, parcels moving under the Postal Service’s “Parcel Select Ground” and “Retail Ground” products within the lower 48 states will be delivered between two and five days instead of the current two- to eight-day window, the Postal Service said. Pricing will remain unchanged, the Postal Service said.
Both products target users shipping heavier packages and willing to sacrifice slower transit times for lower rates. Parcel Select Ground, under which parcel consolidators gather huge volumes of packages and place them deep into the postal network for last-mile deliveries, is aimed at commercial shippers. Retail Ground, which features single-piece shipments handled end-to-end by the Postal Service, is sold at postal counters to noncommercial customers. The maximum parcel weight for both products is 70 pounds.
The Postal Service said it will consolidate these shipments with parcels that move under its First Class Package Service (FCPS). On May 1, the Postal Service adjusted delivery times for some of its first-class parcel shipments with about one-third delivered one to two days later than what had been a two- to three-day window. Under the new standards, a coast-to-coast shipment is expected to take five days. About 68% of first-class parcel volumes still have two- to three-day delivery windows.
The main reason for the May move was to divert more traffic to the Postal Service’s underutilized surface transport network and away from air transportation services that officials said were costly and unreliable.
The Aug. 1 changes were made despite some concerns voiced by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) about their viability. In a nonbinding opinion published earlier this month, the PRC said users will benefit from what is expected to be a reduction in the number of in-transit handoffs. However, the PRC said the proposal may lead to higher manual processing changes and disruptions in processing and delivery operations.
The agency also questioned whether the Postal Service had conducted sufficient market research to support the changes. In what may evolve into a larger issue, the commission said it has found no near-term evidence that a shift from air to ground transportation will yield the efficiencies the Postal Service projects.
In its statement on the changes, the Postal Service said it will “closely monitor” the impact of its moves to ensure they “achieve the anticipated operational and customer service benefits.”