Today’s shoppers want products delivered quickly. Local businesses are positioned to fill that demand, if only USPS’s Louis DeJoy would notice.
But while these special programs between the Postal Service and large retail corporations have provided those companies with a much-needed lifeline during the Covid-19 crisis, no such USPS service has been available for small, local retailers, leaving them at yet another competitive disadvantage.
According to economists at the Federal Reserve, more than 200,000 establishments have permanently closed since the pandemic, more than 100,000 of which were small, local businesses. “Vacancy rates for office and retail are reaching levels last seen during the Great Recession,” the Fed study says. Meanwhile, major retailers have remained far less scathed.
Of course, it’s great that the USPS offers a valuable service to CVS, Target, Walmart, and the like that has benefited those businesses and their customers. It is also helping, to a certain extent, to level the playing field between Big Box stores and Amazon, which is projected to account for more than 40 percent of all e-commerce by years-end. The problem is that the agency is leaving out the rest of the retail industry—predominantly the smaller, local retailers that are vital parts of their community’s fabric. I asked the Postal Service about the existing programs and whether the service was considering expanding them to include smaller retailers. “Like any prudent business, we do not discuss the specifics of our business relationships,” David Partenheimer, a USPS spokesman, told me.