chapter 2
postal operations
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D. Mail Volume and Service Performance

1. Mail Volume

     In 2003, volume declined slightly from 202.8 to 202.2 billion pieces, as volume increases in some categories of mail were more than offset by volume decreases in other categories. Growth was concentrated in low-margin Standard Mail volume. High margin First-Class Mail and Priority Mail volumes declined. This year, largely because the effects of September 11, 2001 and the anthrax attacks had dissipated, volume declined less than in 2002, when it dropped by 4.7 billion pieces. The state of the economy and uncertainty surrounding the war with Iraq acted as a continued brake on growth, however.

First-Class Mail volume fell 2.4 percent in 2003, following a decline of 1.2 percent in the previous year. The continuation of a long term decline in First-Class Mail single-piece volume underlies this decline. E-commerce and e-mail are being substituted for personal correspondence and hard copy commercial transactions that formerly traveled as First- Class Mail single pieces. In 2003, the Postal Service also experienced the first ever annual decline in workshared First-Class Mail volume (see Graph 2-1).

     Some of the current decline in workshare mail relates to the weakness of the economy, but the decline was also related to the absence of new hard-copy billing and statement applications and electronic diversion of bills and statements. In 2004, total First- Class Mail volume is projected to decline 1.6 percent, continuing the slide it experienced in 2003. The decline will slow toward the end of the year, largely due to economic recovery, but any volume growth should be transitory,

table 2-1 historical and projected mail volume by fiscal year
Chapter 1 Compliance with Statutory Policies Introduction

Chapter 2 Postal Operations
  1. Public Perceptions, Customer Outreach, and Mailer Liaison
  2. Products and Services
  3. International Mail
  4. Mail Volume and Service Performance
  5. Mail Distribution
  6. Delivery Unit Operations
  7. Stamp Services
  8. Licensing Program
  9. Service and Market Development
  10. Retail Programs
  11. Pricing and Classification
  12. Technology
  13. Intelligent Mail
  14. Financial Management
Chapter 3 Financial Highlights

Chapter 4 2003 Performance Report and Preliminary 2005 Annual Performance Plan
table 2-1 historical and projected mail volume by fiscal year

(billions of pieces) 2002 2003 Projected 2004 Projected 2005

First-Class Mail 102.4 99.1 97.9 97.5     
Priority Mail 1.0 0.9 0.8 0.8     
Express Mail 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1     
Periodicals Mail 9.7 9.3 9.2 9.1     
Standard Mail 87.2 90.4 94.4 98.2     
Package Services 1.1 1.1 1.2 1.2     
International Mail 0.9 0.9 0.8 0.8     
Other 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5     
Total Mail 202.8 202.2 204.9 208.2