A new national consumer survey conducted by the American Consumer Institute (ACI) concluded that the vast majority of Americans continue to oppose post office closings. In addition, the polling data substantiates NAPUS’ arguments before the Postal Regulatory Commission against the Retail Access Optimization Initiative (RAOI), relating to the American public’s use of post offices.
The survey, which was released on Thursday, found that 72% of Americans are opposed to the planned closing of the RAOI-targeted post offices. This data is consistent with past survey results conducted over the past two years by Gallup and the Washington Post. In addition, the survey results conflict with USPS assertions about the rarity of customer visits to post offices; the ACI survey found that the average person visits the post office more than once a week, and that the visit is not just to purchase stamps. In fact, according to ACI, 68% of the public visit the post office to ship parcels, 53% to send priority or express mail, and 50% to weigh packages or envelopes. Another crucial finding is that nearly half of those surveyed stated that they would have to travel more than seven miles to the next nearest post office if their post office was closed.
The cross-tabs on the survey (i.e., the detailed data) provide some fascinating insights relating to rural post office customers. Approximately twice as many rural customers use post office boxes, as compared to non-rural customers. Within the context of NAPUS’ cross-examination of the USPS at RAOI hearing, the USPS witness conceded that USPS does not collect data to record post office visits relating to post office box mail retrieval. Also, approximately twice as many rural customers visit a post office multiple times a week, as compared to non-rural customers. And, 64% of rural postal customers would have to travel in excess of seven miles if their post office was closed. Hence, as NAPUS pointed out at the RAOI hearings, rural postal customers would suffer a disproportionate decrease in postal access if their retail facility were to be closed. Another interesting finding in the survey is that 68% of postal customers who identified themselves as Republicans oppose post office closings, 69% of Independents oppose closings, and 81% of Democrats oppose closings. Simply stated: a bipartisan and overwhelming majority of Americans oppose post office closings.