Table of Contents

E         Executive Summary  1

Background  1

Overview     1

Mail Markets  1

1     Chapter 1:  Introduction – Volumes & Trends  5

The Survey  5

U.S. Postal Service Volumes  5

Mail Flows  10

Household Mail 10

Classes and Markets  11

Report Organization  12

2         Chapter 2:  Profile of Mail Usage  13

Introduction  13

Mail Volume and Demographics  13

Characteristics of Higher- and Lower-Volume Households  14

Demographic Characteristics of U.S. Households  15

Use of the Post Office  18

3     Chapter 3:  Correspondence  21

Introduction  21

Correspondence Mail Volume  21

Correspondence Mail and Household Characteristics  21

Personal Correspondence  25

Business Correspondence  28

4     Chapter 4:  Transactions  29

Introduction  29

Transactions Mail Volume  29

Transactions Mail and Household Characteristics  30

Bill Payment 32

Bills and Statements Received  36

5     Chapter 5:  Advertising Mail 39

Introduction  39

The Advertising Market 39

Advertising Mail Volumes  40

Advertising Mail and Household Characteristics  41

Senders of Advertising Mail 43

Attitudes toward Advertising  44

Effectiveness of Advertising Mail 46

6     Chapter 6:  Periodicals  47

Introduction  47

The Periodicals Market 47

Advertising’s Impact on Periodicals  48

Household Periodicals Volume  48

Periodicals Mail and Household Characteristics  50

Subscription Type  52

Volume Drivers  53

7     Chapter 7:  Packages  55

Introduction  55

The Package Market 55

Postal Service Package Volume  57

Packages and Household Characteristics  59

Household Package Contents  62

 


List of Tables and Figures

E         Executive Summary  1

Table E.1:  Mail Received and Sent by Households  1

Table E.2:  Household Mail Volume Received and Sent by Market Served  2

Table E.3:  Advertising by Mail Class  2

Table E.4:  Periodical Type Received  2

Table E.5:  Packages Received and Sent via the U.S. Postal Service  3

1         Chapter 1:  Introduction – Volumes & Trends  5

Table 1.1:  Total Mail Volume: FY 2010, 2011, and 2012  6

Table 1.2:  Total Mail: Revenue, Pieces, and Weight by Shape, FY 2012  7

Table 1.3:  Total Mail: Revenue and Weight per Piece by Shape, FY 2012  9

Table 1.4a:  Total Domestic Mail Flows  10

Table 1.4b:  Total Domestic Mail Flows  10

Table 1.4c:  Domestic Mail Flows per Household per Week  10

Table 1.5:  Mail Received and Sent by Households  10

Table 1.6:  Pieces Received and Sent per Household  11

Table 1.7:  Mail Received and Sent by Households  11

2         Chapter 2:  Profile of Mail Usage  13

Table 2.1:  Mail Volume and Demographics Average Annual Growth, 1981-2012  13

Table 2.2:  Characteristics of Higher- and Lower-Mail-Volume Households  15

Table 2.3:  Education of Higher- and Lower-Mail-Volume Households  15

Table 2.4:  Households by Income and Education  16

Table 2.5:  Households by Income and Age  16

Table 2.6:  Households by Number of Adults  16

Table 2.7:  Households by Size  17

Table 2.8:  Households by Type of Internet Access  17

Figure 2.1a:  Internet Access by Income and Type  17

Figure 2.1b:  Internet Access by Age and Type  18

Figure 2.2:  Broadband Subscribers  18

Figure 2.3:  Household Visits to Post Office in Past Month  19

3         Chapter 3:  Correspondence  21

Table 3.1:  First-Class Correspondence Mail Sent and Received by Sector 21

Table 3.2:  Correspondence Mail Received by Income and Education  22

Table 3.3:  Correspondence Mail Sent by Income and Education  22

Table 3.4:  Correspondence Mail Received by Income and Age  23

Table 3.5:  Correspondence Mail Sent by Income and Age  23

Table 3.6:  Correspondence Mail Received and Sent by Household Size  24

Table 3.7:  Correspondence Mail Received and Sent by Number of Adults in Household  24

Table 3.8:  Correspondence Mail Received and Sent by Type of Internet Access  24

Table 3.9:  Income and Education by Type of Internet Access  24

Table 3.10:  Personal Correspondence Sent and Received  25

Figure 3.1:  Personal Correspondence Sent by Income Group  26

Figure 3.2:  Personal Correspondence Sent by Age Cohort 26

Figure 3.3:  Holiday Greetings Sent by Age and Income, FY 2010, 2011, and 2012  27

Table 3.11:  Personal Correspondence by Type of Internet Access  27

Table 3.12: Business Correspondence Type (Sent and Received) by Sector (Millions of Pieces) 28

4         Chapter 4:  Transactions  29

Table 4.1:  Transactions Mail Sent and Received  29

Table 4.1:  Transactions Mail Sent and Received (cont.) 30

Table 4.2:  Transactions Mail Received by Income and Education  30

Table 4.3:  Transactions Mail Sent by Income and Education  31

Table 4.4:  Transactions Mail Received by Income and Age  31

Table 4.5:  Transactions Mail Sent by Income and Age  31

Table 4.6:  Transactions Mail Received and Sent by Household Size  31

Table 4.7:  Transactions Mail Received and Sent by Number of Adults in Household  32

Table 4.8:  Transactions Mail Received and Sent by Internet Access  32

Table 4.9:  Income and Education by Type of Internet Access  32

Table 4.10:  Bill Payment by Method, FY 2010, 2011, and 2012  33

Figure 4.1:  Monthly Average Household Bill Payment by Method  33

Figure 4.2:  Average Monthly Automatic Deductions per Household  34

Table 4.11:  Types of Bills Paid by Mail 34

Figure 4.3:  Average Bills Paid per Month by Income and Age  35

Figure 4.4:  Bill Payment Method by Age  35

Table 4.12:  Bill and Statement Volumes by Industry  36

Table 4.13:  Average Monthly Bills and Statements Received by Method  37

5         Chapter 5:  Advertising Mail 39

Table 5.1:  U.S. Advertising Spending Growth by Medium, 2010-2012  39

Figure 5.1:  Direct Mail as a Share of Total Advertising, 1991-2012  39

Table 5.2:  Advertising Mail by Mail Classification  40

Table 5.3:  Advertising Mail by Mail Classification  41

Table 5.4:  Advertising Mail Received by Income and Education  41

Table 5.5:  Advertising Mail Received by Income and Age  42

Table 5.6:  Advertising Mail Received by Size of Household  42

Table 5.7:  Advertising Mail Received by Number of Adults  42

Table 5.8:  Advertising Mail Received by Internet Access  43

Table 5.9:  Income and Education by Type of Internet Access  43

Figure 5.2:  Advertising Volumes for First-Class and Standard Mail Advertising by Sender Type  43

Figure 5.3:  Advertising Mail Behavioral Trends, FY 1987, 2010, 2011, and 2012  44

Figure 5.4:  Treatment of Standard Mail by Type  44

Figure 5.5:  Treatment of Standard Advertising Mail by Number of Standard Mail Pieces Received per Week  45

Table 5.10: Intended Response to Advertising Mail by Class  46

Figure 5.6:  Weekly Number of Intended Responses by Income  46


6         Chapter 6:  Periodicals  47

Figure 6.1:  Periodicals Mail Volume per Person, 1971-2012  47

Figure 6.2:  Real Per-Capita Magazine Advertising Spending, 1980-2012  48

Table 6.1:  Periodical Type by Year 49

Figure 6.3:  Newspaper Circulation, 1970-2011*  49

Figure 6.4:  Daily Newspaper Readership, 1987-2012  50

Table 6.2:  Periodicals by Income and Education  50

Table 6.3:  Periodicals by Income and Age  51

Table 6.4:  Periodicals by Size of Household  51

Table 6.5:  Periodicals by Number of Adults in Household  51

Table 6.6:  Periodicals by Type of Internet Access  51

Table 6.7:  Income and Education by Type of Internet Access  51

Figure 6.5:  Subscription Type by Year 52

Table 6.8:  Periodicals by Sender Type  52

Figure 6.6:  Number of Periodicals Received per Week by Households by Income Group  53

7         Chapter 7:  Packages  55

Table 7.1:  Total Package Market Volume Growth  56

Figure 7.1:  Package Delivery Market Segment Share  56

Table 7.2:  Postal Service Sent and Received Packages, FY 2010, 2011, and 2012  58

Figure 7.2:  Postal Service Sent and Received Packages by Household Income  59

Table 7.3:  Postal Service Received Packages by Income and Age  59

Table 7.4:  Postal Service Sent Packages by Income and Age  59

Table 7.5:  Postal Service Received Packages by Income and Education  60

Table 7.6:  Postal Service Sent Packages by Income and Education  60

Table 7.7:  Postal Service Received and Sent Packages  by Size of Household  61

Table 7.8:  Postal Service Received and Sent Packages  by Number of Adults in Household  61

Table 7.9:  Received and Sent Packages by Household Internet Access  61

Table 7.10:  Income and Education by Type of Internet Access  61

Table 7.11:  Contents of Postal Service Sent and Received Packages  62


Executive Summary


This report documents the findings of the United States Postal Service’s Household Diary Study (HDS) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012. The three main study purposes are to:

·         Measure the mail sent and received by U.S. households,

·         Provide a means to track household mail trends over time, and

·         Make comparisons of mail use between different types of households.

The report examines these trends in the context of changes and developments in the wider markets for communications and package delivery.

Background

The Household Diary Study survey, fielded continuously since 1987, aims to collect information on household use of the mail and how that use changes over time. The survey collects household information on demographics, lifestyle, attitudes toward mail and advertising, bill payment behavior, and use of the Internet and other information technologies.

The FY 2012 report covers Government Fiscal Year 2012, with comparisons to 2010, 2011, and other years, as appropriate.

The Household Diary Study collects information on household mail use and provides
a look at how that use changes over time.

Overview

In 2012, U.S. households received 121.4 billion pieces of mail, and sent 14.8 billion, as seen in Table E.1. Mail sent or received by households constituted 83 percent of total mail in FY 2012. Fifty-seven percent of the mail households received was sent Standard Mail. Only three percent of household mail was sent between households; the rest was sent between households and non-households.

Table E.1:
Mail Received and Sent by Households

 (Billions of Pieces)

Mail Classification

Received

Sent

First-Class Mail

45.5

14.4

Standard Regular Mail

55.8

Standard Nonprofit Mail

12.8

Periodicals

5.1

Package & Shipping Services *

2.3

0.4

Total

121.4

14.8

Household to Household

4.5

Total Mail Received and Sent by Households

131.7

FY 2012 RPW Total *

159.6

Non-household to
Non-household Residual

27.9

Unaddressed

1.0

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note:  Totals may not sum due to rounding.
* Includes First-Class and Standard Mail packages.

Mail Markets

The Household Diary Study examines mail by the markets it serves. This design cuts across classes, but provides a foundation for understanding mail flows and the marketplace changes that affect them. Table E.2 shows the volume of household mail by market for 2010 through 2012.

Thirty five percent of household mail contains correspondence and transactions, a share that is unchanged from 2011. In terms of volume, total correspondence fell 6.3 percent compared to 2011. Since 2002, correspondence fell 38 percent. In part, the decline in correspondence is a continuation of long-term trends, but it is also strongly related to changing demographics and new technologies. Younger households send and receive fewer pieces of correspondence mail because they tend to be early adaptors of new and faster communication media such as e-mails, social networking, and smart phones.

Table E.2:
Household Mail Volume Received and Sent by Market Served

(Billions of Pieces)

Market

2010

2011

2012

Correspondence

12.9

12.6

11.8

Transactions

37.6

35.6

34.3

Advertising

83.5

85.0

79.6

Periodicals

5.5

5.4

5.1

Packages

3.6

4.0

3.3

Unclassified

4.7

3.9

3.6

Total

141.2

139.1

131.7

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Notes: 
Correspondence and Transactions include 6.1 billion pieces of First-Class advertising-enclosed mail (excluded from totals).
Package volumes include ground packages and expedited, as well as
0.8 billion pieces of CD/DVD rentals.

In 2012, only 40 percent of all bills were paid by mail.

Electronic alternatives also affect transactions mail volume. Over time, automatic deduction and online bill pay account for a growing share of household bill payments. Compared to 2002, the percentage of bills paid by electronic methods increased from 17 percent to 56 percent in 2012. In contrast, bills paid by mail decreased from 75 percent to 40 percent of total payments over the same period of time.  In-person payments decreased from 8 percent in 2002 to 4 percent in 2012. Similarly, the Internet has contributed to some decline in the share of bills and statements households received through the mail. Bills and statements received online continue to grow at a fast pace, albeit from a relatively small base (in 2012 households received an average of 1.7 pieces of bills and statements online, compared to 13.5 pieces in the mail).

Advertising mail represented well over half (60 percent) of all mail received by households in 2012. As shown in Table E.3, 86 percent of all advertising mail received by households is Standard Mail (68.6 billion pieces). The remainder consists of First-Class Mail; either stand-alone advertising (4.9 billion pieces), or advertising-enclosed pieces that are sent along with other matter (6.1 billion pieces).

Over time, the data show a steady decline in the share of First-Class advertising mail, from 21 percent in 2002 to only 14 percent in 2012.

Table E.3:
Advertising by Mail Class

Mail Classification

Volume
(Billions)

Percent of Total Advertising

First-Class Advertising

11.0

14%

Standard Regular Mail

55.8

70%

Standard Nonprofit Mail

12.8

16%

Total Advertising Mail

79.6

100%

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

As shown in Table E.4, households received 5.1 billion Periodicals via mail in 2012, less than in both 2010 and 2011.  More than three-quarters of these were magazines. Newspapers are only 15 percent of total Periodicals, down from 35 percent in 1987. Contributors to the decline in newspaper volumes were lower circulation and readership levels, as well as a strong growth of the Internet as an alternative delivery method over the past decade.

Table E.4:
Periodical Type Received

Mail Classification

Volume
(Billions)

Percent of Total Periodicals

Newspapers

0.8

15%

Magazines

3.9

77%

Unclassified

0.4

8%

Total Periodicals

5.1

100%

Source:  Household Diary Study, FY 2012.

In 2012, households received 2.9 billion and sent 0.5 billion packages. Compared to 2011, total packages sent and received decreased 17 percent, with most of the decline coming from CD/DVD rentals included in First-Class packages for this report.  Excluding 0.8 billion pieces of CD/DVD rentals, total packages sent and received increased 6.7 percent.  In general, delivery from mail order and Internet retailers is an important driver of package volume. While the HDS data is not designed to quantify this, there are indications that online auction sites (like eBay) are responsible for some of the recent increase in packages sent by households.


Table E.5:
Packages Received and Sent via the U.S. Postal Service

(Millions of Pieces)

Mail Classification

2012

Received

Sent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

First-Class Mail

1,077

38%

402

75%

Expedited

360

13%

70

13%

Standard Mail

513

18%

Package & Shipping Services

791

28%

65

12%

Unclassified

106

4%

0

0%

Total Packages

2,847

100%

537

100%

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Notes:
Totals may not sum due to rounding.
Expedited includes Priority Mail and Express Mail.
First-Class packages include 0.8 billion pieces of CD/DVD rentals sent to and received from Netflix, Blockbuster, etc., reported in First-Class Mail letters in Tables E.1, 1.5, and 1.6.

 


Chapter 1:  Introduction – Volumes & Trends


The United States Postal Service Household Diary Study (HDS) Report documents the findings of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 study. The HDS measures the mail sent and received by U.S. households, tracks household mail trends, and compares mail use between different types of households.

The Household Diary Study
provides a means to track
household mail trends over time.

The Survey

The Household Diary Study survey, fielded continuously since 1987, aims to collect information on household use of the mail and how that use changes over time. The survey collects household information on:

·         Volumes of mail sent and received,

·         Demographics,

·         Attitudes toward mail and advertising,

·         Bill payment behavior, and

·         Use of the Internet and other information technologies.

These data are used for market research, forecasting, and strategic planning within the Postal Service.

The Survey Consists of Two Parts:

1)   An entry, or recruitment interview, conducted by phone or Web, collects demographic and attitudinal information from about 8,500 households.

2)    These households then receive a mail diary, which collects information on the mail the household sends and receives in a one-week period. Annually, about 5,200 households successfully complete the diary.

The data generated by these two instruments are the basis of the analysis in this report.

The HDS FY 2012 report covers the period from September 25, 2011, through September 28, 2012, roughly equivalent to the Government Fiscal Year (GFY) used by the Postal Service. Data from FY 2010 and FY 2011 are also reported on a GFY basis.

U.S. Postal Service Volumes

Serving a nation containing five percent of the world’s population, according to the Universal Postal Union, the Postal Service delivers over 40 percent of the world’s mail. The Postal Service delivered 159.9 billion pieces of mail in FY 2012—a decrease of 8.4 billion pieces, or 5.0 percent, from 2011.

In 2012, mail volumes were negatively impacted by the continuing migration of transaction and correspondence mail to the Internet and other electronic alternatives.  Additionally, the sluggish economic recovery provided little or no boost to mail volumes.

Standard Mail volume, consisting mostly of advertising material, declined 5.8 percent (about 5.0 billion pieces) from 2011 to 2012, driven by a weak market for traditional advertising and a fragile economy.

In 2012, First-Class Mail volume fell 5.6 percent (about 4 billion pieces), continuing a long downward trend that began 2001. Ongoing diversion of correspondence and transaction mail to electronic alternatives and the weak economy were key contributors to the decline. First-Class Single-Piece letters and cards, impacted mostly by the growing use of online bill payments and emails, fell 8.1 percent from 2011 to 2012. Presort letters and cards (which include most of the advertising material that is sent First-Class) fell 3.7 percent from the combined impact of electronic diversion and a sluggish economy.

The Postal Service estimates the revenues, volumes, and weight of mail pieces going through the postal network by using a combination of statistical sampling systems, mailing statements, and accounting data. These data are published in the Revenue, Pieces, and Weight (RPW) Reports.


Table 1.1 presents the RPW volumes for FY 2012, along with data for FY 2011 and FY 2010.

Table 1.2 reports revenue, pieces, and weight data by class and shape for FY 2012.

·         The letters column heading includes postcards and refers to pieces that are less than 11.5 inches wide by 6.125 inches tall and less than .25 inches thick.

·         Flats consist of pieces that are greater than 11.5 inches wide, 6.125 inches tall, or .25 inches thick, but less than 12 by 15 by .75 inches.

·         Parcels are pieces that are larger than 12 by 15 inches, or thicker than .75 inches.

Because of the difficulty involved in recording mail-piece characteristics in the Household Diary, these categories do not correspond precisely to the shape categories used by HDS respondents.

Table 1.3 is derived from Table 1.2 and shows the revenue per piece and weight per piece for each subclass of mail by shape.


Table 1.1:
Total Mail Volume: FY 2010, 2011, and 2012

(Billions of Pieces)

Mail Classification

2010

2011

2012

Mailing Services:

 

 

 

First-Class Mail:

 

 

 

Single-Piece Letters & Cards

28.9

26.0

23.9

Presort Letters & Cards

46.2

44.3

42.5

Flats

2.5

2.2

2.1

Parcels

0.6

0.5

0.3

Other *

0.3

0.7

0.8

Total First-Class Mail

78.2

73.7

69.6

Standard Mail:

 

 

 

High Density & Saturation Letters

5.4

5.7

5.6

High Density & Saturation Flats & Parcels

11.4

11.4

11.8

Carrier Route

9.4

9.3

9.1

Letters

48.3

50.6

46.2

Flats

7.0

6.8

5.9

Not Flat-Machinables & Parcels

0.7

0.7

0.3

Other *

0.3

0.2

0.9

Total Standard Mail

82.5

84.7

79.8

Periodicals

7.3

7.1

6.7

Package Services

0.7

0.7

0.6

USPS and Free Mail

0.5

0.5

0.5

Total Mailing Services

169.2

166.7

157.3

Shipping Services

1.5

1.6

2.5

Total All Mail

170.9

168.3

159.9

Source:  RPW Reports.
Note:  Totals may not sum due to rounding.
* Other includes: Negotiated Service Agreements (NSAs), International Mail, Express Mail, and Fees (not reported by shape).


Table 1.2:
Total Mail: Revenue, Pieces, and Weight by Shape, FY 2012

Mail Classification

Revenue

Pieces

Weight

(Millions of Dollars)

(Millions of Pieces)

(Millions of Pounds)

Letters

Flats

Parcels

Total

Letters

Flats

Parcels

Total

Letters

Flats

Parcels

Total

Mailing Services:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First-Class Mail:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Single-Piece Letters & Cards

10,902

0

0

10,902

23,914

0

0

23,914

718

0

0

718

Presort Letters & Cards

15,084

0

0

15,084

42,524

0

0

42,524

2,146

0

0

2,146

Flats

25

2,644

0

2,668

19

2,030

0

2,049

6

412

0

419

Parcels

0

103

546

649

0

56

237

293

0

15

77

91

Total First-Class By Shape

26,010

2,747

546

29,303

66,457

2,087

237

68,780

2,870

427

77

3,374

Other*

 

 

 

1,131

 

 

 

859

 

 

 

155

Total First-Class Mail

 

 

 

30,433

 

 

 

69,640

 

 

 

3,529

Standard Mail:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High Density & Saturation Letters

767

0

0

767

5,564

0

0

5,564

234

0

0

234

High Density & Saturation Flats & Parcels

76

1,874

0

1,951

532

11,237

1

11,770

25

2,122

0

2,148

Carrier Route

21

2,223

0

2,244

102

9,018

0

9,120

4

1,998

0

2,003

Letters

8,979

0

0

8,979

46,150

0

0

46,150

2,378

0

0

2,378

Flats

2

2,226

1

2,230

4

5,933

3

5,940

1

1,495

0

1,496

Not Flat-Machinables & Parcels

0

0

285

285

0

0

304

304

0

0

126

126

Total Standard By Shape

9,845

6,324

287

16,456

52,351

26,188

308

78,847

2,642

5,615

127

8,384

Other*

 

 

 

257

 

 

 

954

 

 

 

42

Total Standard Mail

 

 

 

16,713

 

 

 

79,801

 

 

 

8,427

Periodicals:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Periodicals By Shape

12

1,707

4

1,723

67

6,668

6

6,741

5

2,521

10

2,535

Other *

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

0

Total Periodicals

 

 

 

1,731

 

 

 

6,741

 

 

 

2,535

Package Services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Package Services
By Shape

0

213

1,373

1,586

0

240

405

645

0

351

1,407

1,757

Other*

 

 

 

24

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

19

Total Package Services

 

 

 

1,610

 

 

 

646

 

 

 

1,777

USPS and Free Mail

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

497

 

 

 

170

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Mailing Services
By Shape

35,867

10,992

2,209

49,068

118,874

35,183

956

155,014

5,518

8,914

1,620

16,051

Total Other*

 

 

 

1,421

 

 

 

2,312

 

 

 

386

Total Mailing Services

 

 

 

50,488

 

 

 

157,326

 

 

 

16,438

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shipping Services:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Shipping Services
By Shape

23

881

7,367

8,271

5

186

2,029

2,220

0

126

3,588

3,715

Total Other*

 

 

 

2,640

 

 

 

313

 

 

 

342

Total Shipping Services

 

 

 

10,910

 

 

 

2,533

 

 

 

4,057

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total All Mail

 

 

 

61,399

 

 

 

159,859

 

 

 

20,495

Total All Services**

 

 

 

3,848

 

 

 

2,625

 

 

 

 

Total All Mail & Services

 

 

 

65,247

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:  RPW Reports.
Note:  Totals may not sum due to rounding.
* Other includes: NSAs, International Mail, Express Mail and Fees (not reported by shape).
** All Services include Ancillary and Special Services.

 


Table 1.3:
Total Mail: Revenue and Weight per Piece by Shape, FY 2012

Mail Classification

Revenue per Piece

Weight per Piece

(Dollars)

(Ounces)

Letters

Flats

Parcels

Total

Letters

Flats

Parcels

Total

Mailing Services:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First-Class Mail:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Single-Piece Letters & Cards

0.456

 

 

0.456

0.480

 

 

0.480

Presort Letters & Cards

0.355

 

 

0.355

0.808

 

 

0.808

Flats

1.293

1.302

 

1.302

5.156

3.251

 

3.268

Parcels

 

1.827

2.303

2.211

 

4.172

5.167

4.976

Total First-Class By Shape

0.391

1.316

2.303

0.426

0.691

3.276

5.167

0.785

Other*

 

 

 

1.316

 

 

 

2.889

Total First-Class Mail

 

 

 

0.437

 

 

 

0.811

Standard Mail:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High Density & Saturation Letters

0.138

 

 

0.138

0.672

 

 

0.672

High Density & Saturation Flats
& Parcels

0.143

0.167

0.503

0.166

0.755

3.021

 

2.919

Carrier Route

0.204

0.247

0.684

0.246

0.671

3.545

6.739

3.514

Letters

0.195

 

 

0.195

0.825

 

 

0.825

Flats

0.472

0.375

0.456

0.375

4.264

4.031

0.627

4.029

Not Flat-Machinables & Parcels

 

 

0.938

0.938

 

 

6.656

6.656

Total Standard By Shape

0.188

0.241

0.932

0.209

0.808

3.431

6.597

1.701

Other*

 

 

 

0.270

 

 

 

0.710

Total Standard Mail

 

 

 

0.209

 

 

 

1.690

Periodicals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Periodicals By Shape

0.177

0.256

0.701

0.256

1.185

6.049

24.517

6.018

Other*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Periodicals

 

 

 

0.257

 

 

 

6.018

Package Services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Package Services
By Shape

0.000

0.888

3.390

2.458

0.000

23.339

55.586

43.575

Other*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Package Services

 

 

 

2.491

 

 

 

43.977

USPS and Free Mail

 

 

 

0.000

 

 

 

4.841

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Mailing Services
By Shape

0.302

0.312

2.311

0.317

0.743

4.054

27.107

1.657

Total Other*

 

 

 

0.614

 

 

 

2.674

Total Mailing Services

 

 

 

0.321

 

 

 

1.672

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shipping Services:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Shipping Services
By Shape

4.545

4.742

3.631

3.726

1.010

10.872

28.296

26.776

Total Other*

 

 

 

8.424

 

 

 

17.475

Total Shipping Services

 

 

 

4.307

 

 

 

25.625

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total All Mail

 

 

 

0.384

 

 

 

2.051

Source:  RPW Reports.
Note:  Totals may not sum due to rounding.
* Other includes: NSAs, International Mail, Express Mail, and Fees (not reported by shape).

 



Mail Flows

Mail volume can be broken into four basic flows, based on origin and destination. These flows are:

1)       Household to household,

2)       Household to non-household,

3)       Non-household to household, and

4)       Non-household to non-household.

Table 1.4a shows the total mail in each flow, and Table 1.4b shows pieces per household per week.

Table 1.4a:
Total Domestic Mail Flows

(Billions of Pieces)

Sent By:

Received By:

Household

Non-household

Total Originating

Household

4.5

10.3

14.8

Non-household

116.9

28.2

145.1

Total Destinating

121.4

38.5

159.9

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note:  Totals may not sum due to rounding.

Table 1.4b:
Total Domestic Mail Flows

Mail Flows

Billions of Pieces

Percent of Total Mail

Sent by Household

14.8

9%

Non-Household to Household

116.9

73%

Total Household Mail

131.7

82%

Non-Household to

Non-Household

28.2

18%

Total Mail

159.9

100%

Table 1.4c:
Domestic Mail Flows per Household per Week

Sent By:

Received By:

Household

Non-household

Household

0.7

1.6

Non-household

18.6

N/A

Source:  Household Diary Study, FY 2012.


Household Mail

As shown in Tables 1.4a-c, domestic mail to and from households constituted 82 percent of total mail volume in 2012, which equates to 20.9 pieces per week sent and received by U.S. households. Table 1.5 presents the volumes of mail sent and received by households as estimated from the HDS. The table shows the categories in which the households record their mail. Households received 121.4 billion pieces of mail and sent 14.8 billion. Both of these totals include the 4.5 billion pieces of mail that households sent to each other. The total mail received or sent by households in FY 2012 was 131.7 billion pieces.

Table 1.5:
Mail Received and Sent by Households

(Billions of Pieces)

Mail Classification

Received

Sent

First-Class Mail

45.5

14.4

Standard Regular Mail

55.8

Standard Nonprofit Mail

12.8

Periodicals

5.1

Packages & Shipping Services*

2.3

0.4

Total

121.4

14.8

Household to Household

4.5

Total Mail Received and Sent by Households

131.7

FY 2012 RPW Total

159.9

Non-household to
Non-household (Residual)

28.2

Unaddressed

1.0

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note:  Totals may not sum due to rounding.
* Includes First-Class and Standard Mail packages.

Table 1.6 presents these data in two other forms, annual volumes per household and pieces per household per week. Many of the subsequent results in this report are presented in terms of pieces per household per week.


Table 1.6:
Pieces Received and Sent per Household

Classification

Annual Pieces per Household

Pieces per Household
per Week

Mail Received

 

 

First-Class Mail

376

7.2

Standard Regular Mail

461

8.9

Standard Nonprofit Mail

106

2.0

Periodicals

42

0.8

Packages & Shipping Services*

18

0.4

 

 

 

Total Mail Received

1,003

19.3

Mail Sent

 

 

First-Class Mail:

119

2.3

Packages & Shipping Services*

3

0.0

 

 

 

Total Mail Sent

122

2.3

Unaddressed

8

0.2

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note: Totals may not sum due to rounding.
* Includes First-Class and Standard Mail packages.


Classes and Markets

·         First-Class Mail is used to send transactional mail, correspondence, and advertising. Because it is limited to pieces weighing thirteen ounces or less, it primarily includes letters and cards.

·         Standard Mail is advertising mail. For the most part, Standard Mail comprises letters and flats, although it contains a few postcards and packages as well.

·         Periodicals are magazines and newspapers, and are predominantly flat-shaped.

·         Package and Shipping Services is used to deliver merchandise, books, catalogs, and media such as CDs and DVDs. Most of this mail is parcel-shaped.

Table 1.7 crosswalks between classes of mail and the markets they serve.


Table 1.7:
Mail Received and Sent by Households

Class

Market (Billions of Pieces)

Correspondence

Transactions

Advertising

Periodicals

Packages

Total

First-Class Mail

11.8

34.3

11.0

1.5

52.5

Standard Mail

68.5

0.5

69.1

Periodicals

5.1

5.1

Packages & Shipping Services

1.3

1.3

Total

11.8

34.3

79.6

5.1

3.3

128.1

Unclassified

 

 

 

 

 

3.6

Total Mail Received and Sent by Households

 

 

 

 

 

131.7

Source:  HDS Diary Sample FY 2012.
Notes: Correspondence and Transactions include 6.1 billion pieces of secondary advertising mail also reported in Advertising Mail.
The “Total” column for each class does not include pieces that could not be identified according to markets (Unclassified).
First-Class Packages include 0.8 billion pieces of CD/DVD rentals sent to and received from Netflix, Blockbuster, etc., reported in First-Class Mail letters in Tables E.1, 1.5, and 1.6.

 



Report Organization

The rest of the Household Diary Study report is organized around the markets the mail serves. Each chapter contains an analysis of the trends in the HDS data, as well as a discussion of how those trends affect and are affected by changes in the broader market. The following provides an overview of each chapter.

Chapter 2: Profile of Mail Usage gives an analysis of household demographics. This chapter examines demographic trends over time and their impact on the mail, and discusses attributing factors, such as access to technology and changing attitudes.

Chapter 3: Correspondence examines mail that is used solely or primarily to deliver (non-sales-related) communications, such as letters and greeting cards. This chapter includes analysis of both personal and business correspondence.

Chapter 4: Transactions reviews financial transactions in the mail and the impact of new technologies on that market. It analyzes household bill payment trends with a focus on technological and demographic change.


Chapter 5: Advertising Mail presents the trends in mail used to deliver sales-related messages. It contains information on household attitudes towards advertising by various media, treatment of advertising mail, and demographic determinants of advertising mail receipt.

Chapter 6: Periodicals examines magazines and newspapers delivered in the mail. It looks at how changing demographics are affecting the market for periodicals, and what the implications are for future volume.

Chapter 7: Packages analyzes household use of various types of packages, and it discusses the household market for merchandise delivery.

In addition, there are three appendices to the report:

Appendix A contains a set of comparative tables for FY 1987, FY 2011, and FY 2012, organized by class of mail. A concordance is presented for comparison with pre-2000 reports.

Appendix B documents the study methodology and discusses how the data were collected, weighted, and adjusted, and compares demographic data in the sample to that of the population as a whole.

Appendix C contains the instruments used to administer the survey.

 


Chapter 2:  Profile of Mail Usage


Introduction

This chapter provides information on demographic trends and other factors affecting mail volume, providing a basis for assessing mail volume changes. The breakouts introduced provide the basis for much of the analyses in subsequent chapters.

The first section looks at growth in mail volume, population, households, and delivery points over recent decades. The next section examines the demographic characteristics of mail users, contrasting higher-mail-volume households with lower-volume households. The third section details the emerging demographic and technological trends that will affect the future of mail. The last section examines some of the factors affecting the use of post offices and mailboxes.

Mail Volume and Demographics

Total U.S. mail volume grew from 110 billion pieces in 1981 to 160 billion in 2012, an increase of 45 percent. This growth outpaced the rate of population growth and was close to household formation. Over the same period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the adult population grew 34 percent and households grew about 47 percent. The number of places to which the Postal Service delivers increased still faster, growing by 55 percent (see the USPS annual reports). As Table 2.1 shows, however, volume decreased by an average of 2.4 percent per year over the last eleven years (due to large declines from 2007 onward), while U.S. population growth, household formation, and delivery points increased by an average of about one percent per year. With falling revenues and rising costs, the Postal Service suffered significant financial losses towards the end of the decade.

Total U.S. mail volume decreased by
an average of 2.4 percent per year
between 2001 and 2012,
while population and household
formation increased by an average
of about one percent per year.

The 1980s was a time of extraordinary mail volume growth that began in 1978 and continued through 1988. In 1984, mail volume grew more than ten percent. During this period, technology facilitated this growth. Construction of computerized databases and techniques for sorting large amounts of data created a fertile climate for direct mail marketing. Computerization of financial systems encouraged billing by mail and payments through the mail. These innovations in business processes were further encouraged by the expansion of postal rate discounts.

The Postal Service introduced work-sharing discounts, encouraging mailers to prepare the mail in ways that reduce the total system cost of creating and delivering the mail. Mailers could take advantage of these discounts by sorting the mail in advance. The Postal Service would receive the mail presorted to the individual ZIP codes and/or to the carrier routes associated with those ZIP codes.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, mail volume growth barely kept pace with household growth. The demand for mail was hurt by a recession and two very large rate increases. This was also a period in which the Postal Service absorbed substantial costs that were reapportioned from the Federal government’s retirement programs.

Table 2.1:
Mail Volume and Demographics
Average Annual Growth, 1981-
2012

 

1981-1990

1991-2000

2001-2012

Total Mail Volume

4.6%

2.3%

-2.4%

Delivery Points

1.7%

1.5%

0.9%

Adult Population

1.5%

1.3%

1.2%

Households

1.4%

 0.9%

1.0%

Source:  U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Census Bureau.

The latter half of the 1990s saw rapid growth in mail volume, spurred by a strong economy and rates that increased by less than inflation. The Postal Service also realigned the incentives built into its price structure. It reduced the incentives mailers had for presorting mail and encouraged them to prebarcode their mail. By 2002, the majority of letters the Postal Service received had qualifying barcodes on them. This restructuring of the rates took advantage of the extensive automation of mail preparation and sorting that occurred in the previous decade.

During the 1990s, the U.S. economy rapidly embraced information technology and integrated the Internet into its business processes. An economic recession followed that began in March 2001. The 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon led to large-scale disruptions of those mail services dependent on air transport, such as First-Class, Priority, and Express Mail. When air service was restored, Priority Mail was no longer allowed on commercial passenger flights. Soon afterwards, lethal anthrax was sent through the mail, which resulted in five deaths and a number of serious injuries. These terrorist attacks, combined with the economic recession, caused mail volume to decline 2.2 percent in 2002, which was, at the time, the largest annual decline since World War II. In 2003, Standard Mail volume recovered to a new high, but total First-Class volume continued to decline. Work-shared First-Class Mail fell for the first time ever. Since 2003, Standard Mail volume grew along with the economy, reaching new highs and exceeding First-Class Mail for the first time in 2005. Total First-Class volume, on the other hand, continued to decline, in part due to the diversion of bills and statements to electronic alternatives and the lower-cost Standard Mail option as an alternative to First-Class advertising.

The economic recession that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009 had a severe impact on the mail. Total mail volume plunged 12.7 percent in 2009—the largest decline since the Great Depression. In July 2009, the recession was officially over but was followed by a slow recovery that continued through the end of 2012.  As a result, total mail volume declined an additional ten percent between 2009 and 2012.  Both Standard Mail and First-Class Mail contributed to the overall decline in mail volume, falling 3.8 and 18.0 percent respectively.

Between 2001 and 2012, total mail volume fell 23 percent.  During the same time period, the adult population increased 14 percent, households increased 12 percent, and the Postal Service added ten percent more delivery points to its network.

Continued growth in delivery points
has become an ongoing source
of pressure on postal costs.

The Postal Service depends on mail volume growth to fund universal service. The number of addresses the delivery network serves increases as the number of American businesses and households increases. When mail volume falls, as was the case between 2001 and 2012 the Postal Service’s ability to fund delivery service is hampered because the Postal Service charges its customers for piece volume but does not assess connect charges, access fees, or system fees, like many other network enterprises.

Characteristics of Higher- and Lower-Volume Households

Tables 2.2 and 2.3 show the demographic characteristics of households by the amount of mail received. It is apparent that household mail use is strongly correlated with both income and education. Note, however, the similar correlation between mail receipt and Internet access, which is also related to income and education. Therefore, households that make the most use of the mail are the households with the greatest opportunity to use alternatives to the mail.

These high-volume households are taking advantage of the opportunity to move away from the mail. Households that receive 30 or more pieces of mail each week pay an average of 37 percent of their bills online, up from 33 percent in 2010 and 35 percent in 2011.  Households that receive less than 30 pieces of mail each week are quickly catching up, however, as they paid an average of 35 percent of their bills online.  The percentage of online bill payments among these lower-volume households has increased from 28 percent in 2010 and 30 percent in 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Table 2.2:
Characteristics of Higher- and Lower-Mail-Volume Households

Mail Received

(Pieces per Household
per week)

Households

(Millions)

Median Annual Household Income

Households w/ Internet Access

(Percent)

Total Paid

(Pieces per Household per week)


Bills Paid by Internet

(Pieces per Household per week)

Mail Sent

(Pieces per Household per week)

45 or more

7.3

$101,193

92%

3.6

1.2

5.3

36-44

9.9

$89,536

91%

3.4

1.4

3.5

30-35

12.2

$79,756

93%

3.4

1.3

3.2

24-29

17.9

$71,508

89%

3.1

1.2

2.8

18-23

21.7

$58,618

87%

2.8

1.0

2.3

12-17

24.0

$44,778

80%

2.6

0.9

1.7

Less than 12

28.1

$25,640

74%

1.9

0.6

1.2

Total

121.1

$55,913

84%

2.8

1.0

2.4

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note:  Mail received includes USPS and Non-USPS mail.

Table 2.3:
Education of Higher- and Lower-Mail-Volume Households

Mail Received

(Pieces per Household
per week
)

Households

(Millions)

Educational Attainment of Head of Household

Less than
High School

High School Graduate

Some College or Technical School

College Graduate

45 or more

7.3

8%

12%

15%

65%

36-44

9.9

6%

23%

19%

52%

30-35

12.2

9%

22%

22%

47%

24-29

17.9

7%

30%

22%

40%

18-23

21.7

9%

35%

23%

32%

12-17

24.0

16%

32%

23%

29%

Less than 12

28.1

18%

29%

25%

27%

Total

121.1

12%

29%

22%

37%

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note:  Percentages may not total 100 percent due to heads of households who did not answer the educational attainment question.
Percentages in this table are row percentages.
Excludes households not receiving any mail delivery at their home address (using mailbox only).

 


Demographic Characteristics of
U.S. Households

This section develops breakouts of households by demographic categories that influence the volume of mail sent and received. It looks at both traditional and newly emerging factors. The following chapters will show how mail volume varies with these household characteristics.

Income, Education, and Age

Traditionally, mail use was largely determined by household income, education, and age. As Table 2.4 shows, income and education are strongly correlated with each other, as expected.

The relationship between income and age, shown in Table 2.5, is somewhat more complicated. Up to retirement, household income and age are fairly closely related. After retirement, households earn substantially less; although by that point, mail behavior is pretty well set, and older households continue to receive similar amounts of advertising and periodicals, and pay similar amounts of bills, even though their income declines.


Table 2.4:
Households by Income and Education

(Percent of Households)

Household Income
(Thousands)

Educational Attainment of Head of Household

Total

Less than
High School

High School Graduate

Some College or Technical School

College Graduate

Under $35

25%

36%

24%

15%

100%

$35 to $65

11%

34%

26%

29%

100%

$65 to $100

4%

26%

22%

48%

100%

Over $100

1%

14%

18%

67%

100%

Don’t know/
Refused

9%

26%

20%

42%

100%

Total

12%

29%

22%

37%

100%

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note:  Totals may not sum due to rounding.

Table 2.5:
Households by Income and Age

(Percent of Households)

Household Income
(Thousands)

Age of Head of Household

Total

Under 35

35 to 54

Over 55

Don’t Know/ Refused

Under $35

22%

28%

50%

0%

100%

$35 to $65

24%

34%

41%

0%

100%

$65 to $100

21%

45%

34%

0%

100%

Over $100

15%

53%

32%

0%

100%

Don’t know/
Refused

24%

29%

42%

5%

100%

Total

21%

37%

41%

1%

100%

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note:  Totals may not sum due to rounding.

 


Household Size

The majority of U.S. households include either one or two adults, but households with three or more adults make up 19 percent of the total. Once considered the norm, nuclear families—two adults and at least one child—now account for only 20 percent of households (per the U.S. Census Bureau). The changing composition of households impacted the amount and kinds of mail sent and received by households over the past 20 years, generating more and different kinds of advertising mail, as well as affecting transaction mail trends (bills tend to be tied to households as much as to individuals).

Table 2.6:
Households by Number of Adults

(Millions of Households)

Number of Adults

 

One

28.2

Two

70.0

Three or more

22.9

Total Households

121.1

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note:  Totals may not sum due to rounding.

 

Table 2.7:
Households by Size

(Millions of Households)

Household Size

 

One person

24.7

Two

45.0

Three

20.1

Four

17.5

Five or more

13.8

Total Households

121.1

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note:  Total may not sum due to rounding.

Internet Access

Access to the Internet and use of new technologies, such as Broadband, have a large and growing impact on mail use. Bills, statements, and bill payments still represent a significant number of pieces sent and received by households. However, electronic activity in this area is diverting mail once used for these purposes. On the other hand, online shopping potentially adds packages and catalog delivery to the Postal Service mail stream.

Table 2.8 shows that 84 percent of households have Internet access and 79 percent have Broadband access. The highest levels of Internet and Broadband access are within households with incomes over $100,000 (98 and 95 percent, respectively), as seen in Figure 2.1a. In comparison, households with incomes below $35,000 are less likely to have access to the Internet and Broadband (61 and 54 percent, respectively). As shown in
Figure 2.1b, age is also an important determinant of households having Internet access. Younger households (heads of households younger than 35 years old) are more likely to have access to both the Internet and Broadband (93 and 90 percent, respectively). Older households (heads of households older than 55 years of age), on the other hand, are less likely to have access to the Internet and Broadband (67 and 60 percent, respectively).

Table 2.8:
Households by Type of Internet Access

(Millions of Households)

Type of
Internet Access

 

Broadband

95.5

Dial-up

6.5

None

19.0

Total Households

121.1

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note:  Totals may not sum due to rounding.

Figure 2.2 shows the trend in Broadband connections. The rapid growth of Broadband expands the potential scope of electronic diversion of the mail. The Internet’s fast, always-on connection makes it a stronger alternative medium for the delivery of entertainment, information, and communication. As more households begin using Broadband, the more that bill payments, bill and statement presentment, periodicals, and even advertising mail, will be affected.


Figure 2.1a:
Internet Access
by Income and Type


Source:  HDS Recruitment Data, FY 2012.
Note:  Sum of Internet Access and None does not equal 100 percent due to missing responses and access outside the home only.  Sum of Broadband and Dial-up does not equal the 100 percent due to missing responses.

Figure 2.1b:
Internet Access by Age and Type

Source:  HDS Recruitment Data, FY 2012.
Note:  Sum of Internet Access and None does not equal 100 percent due to missing responses and access outside the home only.  Sum of Broadband and Dial-up does not equal the 100 percent due to missing responses.

 

Figure 2.2:
Broadband Subscribers

Source:  Leichtman Research Group.

 


Use of the Post Office

The Postal Service currently owns and operates 31,272 post office locations throughout the U.S.
As shown in Figure 2.3, in spite of a declining frequency of visits over the past five years, the use of post offices for mailing services continues to dominate the mail service industry. Sixty percent of all U.S. households patronize a post office at least once a month, while just 11 percent visit a private mailing company. Over 28 percent of all households in the U.S. visit the post office three or more times a month. Even with the continued availability of mail-related products and services through alternative modes (such as Internet orders), in-person visits to postal facilities remain strong.

A rented mailbox is one alternative that households use to manage their mail. In 2012, 3 percent of all households in the U.S. rented mailboxes from the Postal Service, and 1 percent rented a box from a private company. Post office box use, however, declined in the past ten years, with 3 percent of U.S. households renting a post office box from the Postal Service in 2012, compared to 10 percent in 2001.


 

Figure 2.3:
Household Visits to Post Office in Past Month

Source:  HDS Recruitment Data, FY 2007 and 2012.

 


 


Chapter 3:  Correspondence


Introduction

This chapter examines correspondence mail among households and between households and businesses, including letters, greeting cards, invitations, and announcements. In several cases, this chapter, and several following it, examines comparisons in data between 2010 and 2012, providing an illustration of mail trends over time.

Correspondence Mail Volume

Total correspondence sent and received represents about nine percent of all household mail volumes, as shown in Table E.2. Table 3.1 provides a recent history of total correspondence volumes, showing an 8.4 percent decline from 2010 to 2012. Personal correspondence, which is essentially household to household mail, fell 13.2 percent from 2010 to 2012, continuing a long-term decline that started 25 years ago. In 1987, households reported receiving 1.6 pieces of personal correspondence each week. By 2012, personal correspondence received declined 56 percent, to just 0.7 pieces per household per week.

In large part, this decline stemmed from competition from an ever-changing landscape of communication technologies, such as affordable long-distance telephone service and, more recently, e-mail, social networking, and cellular communications—all of which provide an alternative to personal letters and business inquiries. Such advances in technological communications completely transformed the marketplace, and continue to have an impact on personal correspondence.

 

Correspondence Mail and
Household Characteristics

The following tables break down correspondence mail sent and received by households using the demographic categories developed in Chapter 2.

Income, Education, and Age

Tables 3.2 and 3.3 on the following page show that both household income and educational attainment have a strong effect on correspondence sent and received by households. In many cases, the volume of correspondence sent and received by households with the highest income or the highest education is more than double the volume that is sent and received by households with the lowest income or the lowest education.


Table 3.1:
First-Class Correspondence Mail Sent and Received by Sector

Sector

Volume (Millions of Pieces)

Change,

2010-2012

2010

2011

2012

Household to household

4,959

4,387

4,302

-13.2%

Non-household to household

6,082

6,464

6,079

0.0%

Household to non-household

1,882

1,762

1,453

-22.8%

Total

12,922

12,613

11,833

-8.4%

Sector

Pieces per Household per Week

Share of 2012 Total

2010

2011

2012

Household to household

0.8

0.7

0.7

36.4%

Non-household to household

1.0

1.0

1.0

51.4%

Household to non-household

0.3

0.3

0.2

12.3%

Total

2.1

2.0

1.9

100%

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Notes:  Totals may not sum due to rounding. 

.

Table 3.2:
Correspondence Mail Received by Income and Education

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Household Income (Thousands)

Educational Attainment of Head of Household

Average

Less than
High School

High School Graduate

Some College or Technical School

College Graduate

Under $35

0.7

1.1

1.1

1.2

1.0

$35 to $65

1.8

1.7

1.6

1.8

1.7

$65 to $100

1.7

2.0

2.0

1.9

1.9

Over $100

0.4

1.7

2.0

2.5

2.3

Average

1.1

1.5

1.6

2.0

1.6

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note:  Excludes Don’t Know/Refused.

Table 3.3:
Correspondence Mail Sent by Income and Education

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Household Income
(Thousands)

Educational Attainment of Head of Household

Average

Less than
High School

High School Graduate

Some College or Technical School

College Graduate

Under $35

 .4

.6

 .6

.6

.5

$35 to $65

 1.2

.9

 .8

1.1

1.0

$65 to $100

 1.0

1.3

1.0

1.2

1.2

Over $100

 .0

.9

 1.0

1.3

1.2

Average

.6

.9

.8

1.1

.9

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note:  Excludes Don’t Know/Refused.

 



 

Tables 3.4 and 3.5 show that age also has a significant effect on correspondence mail sent and received by households. Regardless of their income, in most cases, younger households both send and receive fewer pieces of correspondence mail. Young adults have traditionally sent and received less mail than older adults, but the advent of the Internet age widened the gap between these two age groups.


Table 3.4:
Correspondence Mail Received by Income and Age

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Household Income
(Thousands)

Age of Head of Household

Average

Under 34

35 to 54

Over 55

Under $35

.8

 1.0

1.1

1.0

$35 to $65

1.6

 1.8

1.7

1.7

$65 to $100

1.7

 1.7

2.3

1.9

Over $100

2.0

 2.3

2.3

2.3

Average

1.4

1.8

1.7

1.6

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

 

Table 3.5:
Correspondence Mail Sent by Income and Age

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Household Income
(Thousands)

Age of Head of Household

Average

Under 34

35 to 54

Over 55

Under $35

       .4

        .4

          .6

.5

$35 to $65

       .9

        1.0

        1.0

1.0

$65 to $100

     1.2

      .9

        1.5

1.2

Over $100

       1.1

      1.2

        1.2

1.2

Average

.8

.9

1.0

.9

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

 



 

Household Size

As would be expected, household size has a positive effect on correspondence mail. Tables 3.6 and 3.7 show that the jump from one person to two is associated with a considerable increase in correspondence mail. Further increases in size can have varying effects. As shown in Table 3.7, these increases are generally because of the presence of an additional adult in the household.

Table 3.6:
Correspondence Mail Received and Sent
by Household Size

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Household Size

Received

Sent

One person

1.2

.7

Two

1.7

1.0

Three

1.6

.9

Four

1.9

1.0

Five or more

2.0

1.0

Total

1.6

.9

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

Table 3.7:
Correspondence Mail Received and Sent
by Number of Adults in Household

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Number of Adults

Received

Sent

One

1.1

.6

Two

1.8

1.0

Three or more

1.9

.9

Average

1.6

.9

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.


Internet Access

Table 3.8 shows that households with Internet access (Broadband and Dial-up) tend to send and receive more correspondence mail than households without such service. The explanation for this somewhat counterintuitive result is the high correlation among income, educational attainment, and the presence of an Internet connection in the home. As Table 3.9 shows, households with Internet access have a greater average income than households without a connection. Similarly, on average, households with Internet access have a higher level of education than those without access. In fact, these correlations could be a warning sign for mail, since more volume goes to households that are vulnerable to diversion.

Table 3.8:
Correspondence Mail Received and Sent by Type of Internet Access

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Type of Internet Access

Received

Sent

Broadband

1.8

1.0

Dial-up

1.4

.7

None

1.0

.6

Average

1.6

.9

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

Table 3.9:
Income and Education by Type of Internet Access

Type of Internet Access

Median Income

($)

% w/ College Degree

Broadband

62,964

42%

Dial-up

41,761

26%

None

21,529

11%

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.


Personal Correspondence

In FY 2012, personal correspondence accounted for an average of 0.7 pieces of mail per week, which is about the same as in 2011 and lower than in 2010. Table 3.10 shows the total volumes and average number of pieces by personal correspondence type.

The volume of personal letters continued to decline in 2012—a trend primarily driven by the adoption of the Internet as a preferred method of communication. Similarly, all other types of personal correspondence also fell because of the increasing availability of new electronic alternatives (such as e-cards, e-vites, smart phones, and social networks).

Each year, the rise of these new virtual technologies continues to change the way friends and family stay in touch. The weak economic recovery also contributed to the decline, as spending on cards and other correspondence-related products likely decreased.


Table 3.10:
Personal Correspondence Sent and Received

Correspondence Type

Volume (Millions of Pieces)

 

Change, 2010-2012

 

2010

2011

2012

Personal Letters

850

644

650

-23.5%

Holiday Greeting Cards

2,073

1,945

1,944

-6.2%

Non-Holiday Greeting Cards

1,295

1,173

1,086

-16.2%

Invitations/Announcements

522

492

460

-11.8%

Other Personal

219

133

162

-25.9%

Total

4,959

4,387

4,302

-13.2%

Correspondence Type

Pieces per Household per Week

Share of 2012 Total

2010

2011

2012

Personal Letters

.1

.1

.1

15.1%

Holiday Greeting Cards

.3

.3

.3

45.2%

Non-Holiday Greeting Cards

.2

.2

.2

25.2%

Invitations / Announcements

.1

.1

.1

10.7%

Other Personal

.0

.0

.0

3.8%

Total

.8

.7

.7

100.0%

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Note:  Totals may not sum due to rounding.

 

 

 


 


Figure 3.1 shows the major personal correspondence types by income. Personal correspondence sent by households seems to follow a pattern of higher-income households being more likely to send letters, holiday cards, and non-holiday greeting cards than lower-income households.

The largest disparity between high- and low-income households is in the volume of holiday greeting cards sent. Households with incomes greater than $100,000 sent an average of 22 holiday greeting cards in FY 2012, compared to the 6 cards sent by households with incomes lower than $35,000.
Internet card use is gradually growing to a level comparable to non-holiday greeting card mail.

The number of letters and greeting cards sent also seems to follow a pattern where the older the head of household, on average, the more the greeting cards that are sent.  Figure 3.2 illustrates this point.  Use of social media to send greetings at no cost could explain, in part, the low number of internet cards sent by younger heads of household.

 


Figure 3.1:
Personal Correspondence Sent by Income Group

(Pieces per Household per Year)

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

Figure 3.2:
Personal Correspondence Sent by Age Cohort

(Pieces per Household per Year)

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

 


The relationship between holiday greeting cards sent and income is shown in more detail in Figure 3.3. In FY 2012, as in prior years, higher-income households sent the most holiday greeting cards. Households with incomes greater than $100,000 sent 22 holiday greeting cards, while households with incomes lower than $35,000 sent only six holiday greeting cards in FY 2012. 

When examined by age, the number of holiday greeting cards sent is typically much greater for households where the head of household is older. In 2012, households where the head of household is aged 55 or older, on average, sent 15 holiday greeting cards, while households where the head of household is younger (35 or younger) sent thirteen.

 


Figure 3.3:
Holiday Greetings Sent by Age and Income, FY 2010, 2011, and 2012

Source:  HDS Diary data, Diary Sample only, FY 2010, 2011, and 2012.

 


As shown in Table 3.11, households with Internet access (particularly Broadband) receive more letters, holiday cards, and non-holiday greeting cards, compared to households without Internet access. As discussed earlier, households with Internet access, on average, have higher income and education levels (see Table 3.9) -- attributes that typically lead to a greater use of written correspondence.


Table 3.11:
Personal Correspondence by Type of Internet Access

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Correspondence Type

No Internet Access

Dial-up

Broadband

Personal Letters

.09

.07

.11

Holiday Greeting Cards

.15

.17

.35

Non-Holiday Greeting Cards

.11

.14

.19

Total

.35

.37

.65

Source:  HDS Diary Sample FY 2012.



Business Correspondence

This section of the report provides data on correspondence types between households and businesses. In addition to correspondence mail, households and businesses exchange bill payments, statements, and advertising (discussed in Chapters 4 and 5). Table 3.12 outlines volumes by types of correspondence for 2010 through 2012. Correspondence received from the non-household sector accounts for about 50 percent of all correspondence sent and received by households (see Table 3.1).


Invitations and announcements represent 44 percent of business and government correspondence received by households. Announcements are also the main type of social correspondence households receive; in 2012 they represented 75 percent of all social mail received.

 


Table 3.12:
Business Correspondence Type (Sent and Received) by Sector (Millions of Pieces)

Business Correspondence Type

2010

2011

2012

Change, 2010–2012

Business/Government/Social Received by Households

 

 

 

 

Invitation/Announcement

1,781

2,003

2,048

15.0%

Holiday Greeting from Business

323

358

294

-9.0%

Other Business/Government

2,050

2,381

2,295

12.0%

Total Business/Government Received

4,154

4,742

4,637

11.6%

Announcement

1,375

1,241

1,082

-21.3%

Other Social

552

481

359

-34.9%

Total Social Received

1,928

1,722

1,442

-25.2%

Total Received

6,082

6,464

6,079

0.0%

Business/Government/Social Sent from Households

 

 

 

 

Inquiry

408

79

45

-89.0%

Other Business/Government

1,101

1,373

1,153

4.7%

Total Business/Government Sent

1,509

1,452

1,198

-20.6%

Letter

86

40

15

-82.6%

Inquiry

52

2

5

-90.4%

Other Social

234

267

235

0.4%

Total Social Sent (Social includes social, political & nonprofit.)

372

309

255

-31.5%

Total Sent

1,881

1,761

1,453

-22.8%

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Notes:  Totals may not sum due to rounding.

Increases in correspondence between households and non-households are due to 2011 survey questionnaire
improvements which restated previously unclassified mail.


Chapter 4:  Transactions


Introduction

This chapter examines the volumes and trends in transactions mail: the bills, statements, payments, donations, rebates, and orders sent and received by households. Information is presented on household bill payment trends, which is of particular interest, as the availability of electronic alternatives affects traditional transactions mail.

Transactions Mail Volume

Transactions sent and received constitute 26 percent of all household mail volumes (as seen in Table E.2) and 62 percent of household First-Class Mail; as such, they are an important part of the mail stream. Although many businesses use electronic funds transfer (EFT) or other electronic technologies to settle transactions, households still receive and pay a majority of their recurring bills through the Postal Service. As the Internet and Broadband become more ubiquitous, however, the movement towards consumer Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment (EBPP) is expected to continue gaining momentum.

As Table 4.1 shows, the total transactions volume sent and received by households fell 8.8 percent between 2010 and 2012. All major transaction categories contributed to the decline (the increase in insurance related transactions is due to a restatement of previously unclassified mail). Electronic diversion continues to erode the volume of mail payments in favor of online payments, automatic deductions from bank accounts, and other electronic methods of bill payment. The availability of new payment alternatives, accompanied by an unprecedented economic downturn, resulted in a 16.2 percent decline in bills paid by mail between 2010 and 2012. The growth in non-mail methods of payments is also evident in Table 4.1, which shows that bills paid by mail are far fewer than total bills received (as discussed below, only 40 percent of all household bills were paid by mail in 2012).


Table 4.1:  Transactions Mail Sent and Received

Transaction Type

Volume (Millions of Pieces)

Change,
2010–2012

2010

2011

2012

Business

 

 

 

 

Bills

16,132

14,927

14,082

-12.7%

Bill Payments

8,088

6,707

6,776

-16.2%

Statements

6,375

5,618

5,584

-12.4%

Confirmations

1,285

1,275

1,193

-7.2%

Payments (to HH)

2,543

2,343

2,464

-3.1%

Orders

394

270

190

-51.6%

Rebates

161

140

140

-13.0%

Insurance Related

896

2,485

2,257

151.9%

Other Transactions

132

442

397

200.8%

Total Business

36,006

34,207

33,083

-8.1%

Social/Charitable

 

 

 

 

Requests for Donation

657

674

608

-7.5%

Donations

484

366

283

-41.5%

Bills

169

124

124

-26.6%

Confirmations

265

207

188

-29.1%

Total Social/Charitable

1,575

1,371

1,203

-23.6%

Total Transactions

37,581

35,578

34,286

-8.8%


Table 4.1:  Transactions Mail Sent and Received (cont.)

Transaction Type

Pieces per Household per Week

Share 2012

2010

2011

2012

Business

 

 

 

 

Bills

2.6

2.4

2.2

41.1%

Bill Payments

1.3

1.1

1.1

19.8%

Statements

1.0

0.9

0.9

16.3%

Confirmations

0.2

0.2

0.2

3.5%

Payments (to HH)

0.4

0.4

0.4

7.2%

Orders

0.1

0.0

0.0

0.6%

Rebates

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.4%

Insurance Related

0.1

0.4

0.4

6.6%

Other Transactions

0.0

0.1

0.1

1.2%

Total Business

5.9

5.5

5.3

96.5%

Social/Charitable

 

 

 

 

Requests for Donation

0.1

0.1

0.1

1.8%

Donations

0.1

0.1

0.0

0.8%

Bills

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.4%

Confirmations

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.5%

Total Social/Charitable

0.3

0.2

0.2

3.5%

Total Transactions

6.1

5.8

5.4

100.0%

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Historical data was restated as a result of improvements to the 2011 survey questionnaires, which restated previously unclassified mail.
The increase in the newly created insurance related category is also related to the changes to the questionnaires.

 


Transactions Mail and
Household Characteristics

The following tables break down transactions mail sent and received by households based on the demographic categories introduced in Chapter 2.

Income, Education, and Age

As seen in Tables 4.2 and 4.3, household income and educational attainment influence the amount of transactions mail sent and received. In most cases, income has a much greater impact on transactions mail received than sent. The basis for this relationship is that higher-income households are more likely to be broadband households and more likely to pay bills through non-mail means. The tables also show that income has a greater impact on transactions mail than education. Better-educated households, on average, have more financial accounts, insurance policies, and credit cards—all generators of transactions mail volume.


Table 4.2:
Transactions Mail Received by Income and Education

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Household Income

(Thousands)

Educational Attainment of Head of Household

Average

Less than
High School

High School Graduate

Some College or Technical School

College Graduate

Under $35

3.2

3.1

2.7

2.9

3.0

$35 to $65

4.8

4.5

4.7

3.7

4.4

$65 to $100

5.4

5.4

5.4

4.5

5.0

Over $100

4.7

5.9

4.9

5.6

5.5

Average

3.7

4.3

4.2

4.6

4.3

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

Table 4.3:
Transactions Mail Sent by Income and Education

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Household Income

(Thousands)

Educational Attainment of Head of Household

Average

Less than
High School

High School Graduate

Some College or Technical School

College Graduate

Under $35

1.0

.9

.8

1.0

.9

$35 to $65

1.5

1.5

1.4

1.1

1.3

$65 to $100

1.7

1.5

1.4

1.0

1.3

Over $100

0.1

1.3

1.3

1.1

1.2

Average

1.1

1.3

1.2

1.1

1.2

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

 


Tables 4.4 and 4.5 show that age has a strong effect on transactions mail, independent of income. Across all income categories, younger households send and receive less transactions mail. In part, this is because such households are less likely to own their home and have fewer insurance policies, investments, and the like. However, it is also the case that these households are more active users of electronic alternatives to traditionally mail-based transactions. This is particularly evident for transactions mail sent (primarily bill payments) where households in which the head of household is aged under 35 years sent only about one-half as much mail as households where the head of household is 35 or older.

Across all income categories,
younger households send and receive
less transactions mail.

Table 4.4:
Transactions Mail Received by Income and Age

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Household Income
(Thousands)

Age of Head of Household

Average

Under 35

35 to 54

Over 55

Under $35

2.2

3.0

3.4

3.0

$35 to $65

3.0

4.7

4.9

4.4

$65 to $100

3.2

5.1

5.8

5.0

Over $100

3.5

5.4

6.7

5.5

Average

2.9

4.6

4.8

4.3

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

 

Table 4.5:
Transactions Mail Sent by Income and Age

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Household Income
(Thousands)

Age of Head of Household

Average

Under 35

35 to 54

Over 55

Under $35

.6

.7

1.2

.9

$35 to $65

.6

1.3

1.7

1.3

$65 to $100

.8

1.2

1.6

1.3

Over $100

.3

1.0

1.8

1.2

Average

.6

1.1

1.5

1.2

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

Household Size

In terms of household size, Table 4.6 shows that the increase from a one-person household to a two-person household adds 1.6 pieces of transactions mail per week received and 0.3 pieces per week sent, but a larger household size has little effect on volume.

Table 4.6:
Transactions Mail Received and Sent by Household Size

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Household Size

Received

Sent

One person

2.9

1.1

Two

4.5

1.4

Three

4.7

1.2

Four

4.9

1.0

Five or more

4.8

.7

Average

4.3

1.2

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

 

For transactions mail received, Table 4.7 shows that one additional adult adds about 1.6 pieces (on average) of mail received per week. However, one additional adult generates only 0.1 pieces of additional mail sent.

Table 4.7:  
Transactions Mail Received and Sent
by Number of Adults in Household

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Number of
Adults in Household

Received

Sent

One

2.9

1.1

Two

4.5

1.2

Three or more

5.4

1.1

Average

4.3

1.2

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

Internet Access

Table 4.8 shows that households with Internet access (Broadband or Dial-up) receive more transactions mail than households without Internet service, even though having an Internet connection at home should make transactions more susceptible to electronic diversion. As shown in Table 4.9, this apparent contradiction is explained in large measure by the fact that household Internet access is strongly correlated with income and education.

Table 4.8 also shows that the number of transactions sent by households with Broadband is lower than both Dial-up users and households without any Internet access. Broadband’s higher processing speeds provide a strong motivation for households to move financial transactions online or pay more for faster speeds, particularly when it relates to bill payments.

Table 4.8:
Transactions Mail Received and Sent by Internet Access

(Pieces per Household per Week)

Type of
Internet Access

Received

Sent

Broadband

4.5

1.1

Dial-up

4.7

1.3

None

2.9

1.2

Average

4.3

1.2

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

Table 4.9:
Income and Education by Type of Internet Access

Type of
Internet Access

Median Income

% w/ College Degree

Broadband

62,964

42%

Dial-up

41,761

26%

None

21,529

11%

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

Bill Payment

The total number of bills paid per month per household increased from 11.5 in 2010 to 12.1 in 2012. Households use a variety of methods to pay bills. Historically, they have been paid in person, via phone, or by mail. In the past decade, emerging technologies provided additional bill payment options. The most important of these is electronic bill payment, which, for purposes of this chapter, includes payments made via Internet, automatic deductions from bank accounts, and automatic charges to credit cards.

The Household Diary Study measures bill payment by all of these methods.

Table 4.10 shows the percentage of households that pay bills by each method and the average number of bills paid per month by each method. About 79 percent of households paid at least one bill by mail. Alternatively, this implies that 21 percent of households no longer paid any of their bills by mail. Other popular bill payment methods were online (used by 65.4 percent of households) and automatic deductions from bank accounts (57.1 percent of households). The average number of bills paid by mail per household was 4.8 per month, down 11 percent from 54 in 2010. In 2012, only 40 percent of all household payments were made by mail—the lowest share to date.

In 2012, households reported paying more monthly bills electronically (6.7) than by mail (4.8). Additionally, regarding total electronic payments, more payments were made online (4.3) than by all other electronic methods combined (2.5).

In 2012, households reported paying
more bills electronically than by mail.

 


Table 4.10:
Bill Payment by Method
, FY 2010, 2011, and 2012

Bill Payment Method

2010

2011

2012

Average

Number of Bills Paid per Month

Average Number of Bills Paid per Month

Average Number of Bills Paid per Month

Share of Bills Paid

Percent of Households Using Method

Mail

5.4

5.0

4.8

39.9%

79.0%

Automatic Deduction

1.5

1.5

1.7

14.3%

57.1%

Internet

3.3

3.6

4.3

35.1%

65.4%

In-person

.5

.5

.5

4.2%

26.1%

Credit Card

.4

.4

.5

3.9%

21.8%

Telephone

.3

.3

.3

2.6%

14.9%

Total

11.5

11.3

12.1

100.0%

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Historical data for payments by mail was restated as a result of improved 2011 survey questionnaires which restated previously unclassified mail pieces.

 

 


As Figure 4.1 shows, electronic methods account for a growing share of household bill payments over time. In fact, since 2000, the average number of bills paid by electronic methods more than quadrupled, largely at the expense of the mail, which fell about 45 percent during that time.


 

Figure 4.1:
Monthly Average Household Bill Payment by Method

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 1998-2012.
Note:  Other Electronic includes telephone.

 

 



Figure 4.2 shows that automatic deductions more than tripled since 1998. Over time, however, the increasing affordability and popularity of Broadband has provided sufficient motivation for many households to transition from automated deductions to online bill payments, in a way similar to the electronic diversion of payments by mail. As a result, automatic deductions have leveled off in recent years.


Figure 4.2:
Average Monthly Automatic Deductions per Household

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 1998-2012.

 


 

The types of bills paid by mail are shown in Table 4.11.  All types of bills that are paid by mail have been affected by electronic diversion. For each bill type, the share that is paid by mail decreased substantially from 2010. The share of electric bills paid by mail was the largest. In 2012, 46 percent of households paid their electric bills by mail, down from 50 percent in 2010. Similarly, the share of telephone bills paid by mail decreased from 48 percent in 2010 to 44 percent in 2012. All remaining bill types experienced similar declines in the shares paid by mail, leaving them with less than a 50 percent share paid by mail.

The Household Diary Study finds that the number of total bills paid per month varies by age and income, as does the choice of method used for bill payment. Figure 4.3 shows the total average number of bills paid per month for each income and age group.


Table 4.11:
Types of Bills Paid by Mail

Bill Type

Percent of Household

2010

2011

2012

Electric

50%

47%

46%

Telephone

48%

43%

44%

Credit Cards

42%

40%

38%

Insurance

46%

42%

39%

Cable/Satellite TV

40%

37%

35%

Water/Sewer

38%

35%

35%

Natural Gas/
Propane, etc.

39%

37%

36%

Medical

45%

40%

39%

Cell Phone

29%

28%

26%

Rent/Mortgage

29%

26%

24%

Internet Service

24%

24%

23%

Taxes

40%

35%

35%

Car Payment

17%

15%

15%

Other Loans

16%

16%

15%

Alimony/
Child Support

1%

1%

1%

Source:  HDS Recruitment Sample, FY 2010, 2011, and 2012.


Figure 4.3:
Average Bills Paid per Month by Income and Age

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.

 


Unsurprisingly, the number of bills paid per month is positively related to household income. Households with incomes above $100,000 paid an average of 15.2 bills per month in FY 2012, compared to 8.9 bills paid by households with incomes below $35,000.

Age has a slightly different relationship with bill payment levels; younger households (in which the head of household is aged 34 or younger) and older households (in which the head of household is aged 55 or older) pay fewer bills than households in which the head of household is between the ages of 35 and 54.

Younger households pay the majority of their bills electronically. Figure 4.4 shows that the younger the head of a household is the more likely the household will pay bills electronically. Even when comparing just the Internet portion of total electronic payments to mail payments, younger households paid a greater share of bills online than by mail. Younger households paid only 23 percent of their bills by mail and 51 percent online, as compared to older households, who paid 52 percent of their bills by mail and only about 23 percent online.


Figure 4.4:
Bill Payment Method by Age

Source:  HDS Diary Sample, FY 2012.
Note:  Other Electronic includes telephone.


Bills and Statements Received

Table 4.12 shows the overall volume of bills and statements received. In FY 2012, about 43 percent of First-Class Mail received by households was bills and statements. Households received 14.1 billion bills in FY 2012, a 13 percent decline from 2010 (16.1 billion), partly because of account closures associated with the recession and increasing account consolidations. The largest volumes of bills originated from credit card companies (3.9 billion), utilities (2.2 billion), telephone/cable companies (2.2 billion), medical and professional companies (1.6 billion), and insurance companies (1.4 billion).

Statements received were predominantly sent by the financial sector, including banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions.

As with bills, the volume of statements households received fell to 5.6 billion from 6.4 billion pieces in 2010, a decrease of 12 percent. In addition to account closures, statements also declined as financial institutions, in an effort to reduce costs, continued to move from monthly to quarterly statement mailings.


Table 4.12:
Bill and Statement Volumes by Industry

Industry

Volumes

Bills

(Millions)

Statements

(Millions)

Financial

 

 

Bank, S&L, Credit Union

953

2,635

Credit Card

3,867

16

Insurance Company

1,393

251

Real Estate/Mortgage

257

108

Other Financial

129

1,701

Total Financial

6,599

4,711

Merchants

 

 

Department Store

61

3

Publisher

270

3

Mail Order Company

84

2

Other Merchants

151