LONDON: January 10, 2017. Britain's Post Office has announced it will franchise 37 more branches following the closure of 93 last year. The organization's Sales and Trade Marketing director Roger Gale said the reason was due to changing consumer habits and the cost of maintaining prime locations. According to David Jinks, head of Consumer Research at parcel broker Fastlane International, the latest move should come as no surprise:
The rise of couriers who pick up from sender's front door, eliminating the need to stand in a queue at the Post Office, means the 350 year-old institution is facing extinction.
The Post Office claims the changes will help to keep branches where customers want them to be but 50 percent of Post Offices have closed since 1987. It's not hard to see why. The rise of online parcel brokers, who can save over 60 percent on Post Office prices for shipping parcels in the U.K. and abroad, and do away with the notorious Post Office queue, means the Post Office will be as dead as the dodo by 2030.
The Post Office itself admits that consumer habits are changing, and there is a high cost to maintaining premises in prime high street locations, and says franchising will keep services where its customers want them. Those 'changing consumer habits' are in fact the great switch to cheaper parcel courier services.
The larger Crown Post Offices are soulless, dreary, places; full of empty shelves and long queues. Now no one needs to tax their car or must buy their stamps there, there seems little reason why people would deliberately opt to continue the drudgery of queuing.
Of course, the traditional village Post Office is far more welcoming and it would be nice to think it still has a significant role to play in the local community.
It would be a shame were it to disappear entirely; but sadly, the realities of retail economics are against their continued survival; and a village store with a parcel pick up and locker service makes far more sense.
No one wants to see more job losses in the postal industry; but the truth is once people have tried a courier pick up service; they don't go back.
- U.K-based Fastlane International was founded in 1986 to provide added-value courier services to consumers and SME's.