Postal customers purchase stamps before Sunday price increase

Friday, January 24, 2014 | 5:29 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Jan Bradley went to the Columbia post office on Walnut Street to stock up on first-class stamps Friday morning. She bought four rolls.

Stamp prices are set to increase 3 cents, to 49 cents, and shipping costs will rise by 2.4 percent on Sunday.

"I'm tickled about it," Bradley said sarcastically about the price increases.

Although the increased price of stamps is temporary for the next two years, Bradley said she is skeptical rates will return to the current 46 cent price.

The increase in the stamp price was approved in December by the Postal Regulatory Commission to offset losses during the recession, a total of $2.8 billion from 2008 to 2011, according to a release from the Postal Regulatory Commission. The rate also includes a 1 cent inflation adjustment.

Bradley is not the only one preparing for the price increase. Cheryl Thompson, customer relations coordinator for the post office, said there has been a 12 percent increase in first-class stamp sales since last week.

"I think most people understand (the increase) and recognize our products and services are still a good value compared to our competitors," Thompson said.

But others are not preparing for the increase, such as Charles Kmucha who owns Blue Heart Antiques in Columbia. Although his business requires frequent shipping, he said he is not preparing for the increase in any way. Kmucha said the post office would need to cut services or lay off workers to balance its budget, not rely on an increase in prices.

"I think it's indicative of the dilemma the post office faces," Kmucha said. "It's unreasonable to expect this is the solution."

With the new shipping prices, customers will have a new option for delivery by 10:30 a.m. to most locations in the U.S. through Priority Mail Express, according to a release from the U.S. Postal Service. Pricing options for the express service will be $19.99 for retail, padded and legal flat rate envelopes and $44.95 for flat rate boxes.

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