Mail model? NZ Post slashes deliveries to three days a week
Death of the letter and rise of smartphones means other postal services are likely to follow suit
THE slow death of the letter and the ubiquity of smartphones have forced New Zealand to slash its postal service to a three-days-a-week operation.
In a move that could "foreshadow similar changes in other developed nations", the state-owned New Zealand Post is switching from a six-day-a-week delivery service to just three, the New Zealand Herald reports. The changes, which will take effect in June 2015, are a response to "plummeting letter volumes" as customers communicate via smartphones and the internet.
As part of the re-structuring there will be a "substantial increase" in the number of NZ Post self-service kiosks. That's likely to mean the closure of post offices where customers deal with human staff, says stuff.co.nz.
NZ Post describes the development - which has been approved by the government - as "inevitable". While parcel volumes "have increased by nearly 3 million since 2006", letter volumes over the same period dropped by at least 30 per cent, the company said.
The total amount of mail delivered in New Zealand is falling by eight per cent a year, NZ Post says.
The three-day-a-week service will initially only apply to urban areas with rural areas maintaining a five-day-a-week service. NZ Post admits there will be "hundreds" of jobs lost as a result of the changes, but the exact number has not been released.
Communications and IT Minister Amy Adams said: "It is important to note that three-day delivery is the minimum standard New Zealand Post must meet. This means that New Zealand Post may continue to provide a higher frequency of delivery in some non-rural areas."
Adams said if changes were not made, the government would end up subsidising NZ Post by more than $30m a year.
Declining mail volumes are an international phenomenon. In the UK, mail volumes have been in decline since 2005, according to a report by the communications watchdog Ofcom.
In 2011, 16.6 billion items of mail were delivered in the UK, compared to 22.3 billion in 2005. Ofcom says the increase in online shopping has led to an increase in "fulfilment mail", but it has "not been sufficient to offset the decline in the traditional letter market. ·