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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 01/ 6/2011

Coming soon to a post office near you: Gift cards

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 1:59 p.m. ET
Gift-card sales are booming and the U.S. Postal Service wants a piece of the action.

Starting in May, about 2,000 post offices will start selling gift cards of $25 or more, and another 1,000 locations will start doing so in October. The cards -- which are issued by banks or credit card companies to use for the purchase of any item, not just postal products -- will be available for purchase at about 110 locations in the District, Maryland and Virginia, according to USPS.

The cash-strapped Postal Service is seeking new ways to generate revenue and increase mail volume. Gift-cards -- often sold at cash registers alongside magazines and candy -- are a popular impulse purchase that should help do both.

Gift card sales rose during the holiday season and 5 percent overall in 2010, helping post-Christmas retail sales and signaling a broader resurgence in consumer spending. More than half of gift cards are redeemed in the month after Christmas, according to the TowerGroup research firm. Card sales are expected to hit at least $100 billion in 2012.

The sales plan awaits final approval by the Postal Regulatory Commission, which received formal notice on Wednesday. By law, regulators must approve significant changes to the postal business plan -- a potentially time-consuming wrinkle that USPS officials hope Congress will one day repeal to allow greater flexibility in making business decisions.

The Postal Service already sells greeting cards at about 1,600 locations, with plans to sell them at about 4,000 more by the end of the year.

Would you buy gift cards at the post office, or just stick to stamps and packages? What else should the Postal Service sell? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 6, 2011; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Postal Service  
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Comments

Wait, are they selling gift cards only for postal services, or for lots of different retailers like Safeway does?

Seems like they don't need USPS gift cards -- that's what stamps are! The original gift card. Prepay now for some stickers you can use for goods/services later.

Posted by: pxl4 | January 6, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Buying both stamps and gift cards would be great! Sure, I would not mind buying them both at the same time. As long as the gift cards do not have extra fees or a time limit like some stores tack onto them. The post office could also make more money if they provided a way for customers or gift recipients to reload the gift cards when the original amount is used up. In that example, I would buy stamps or other items when reoading my card at the post office.

Posted by: ashtondunbarva | January 6, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Anyone knows that is one goes over to any UPS store tath what will be seen is why this organization USPS) is becoming a part of the past. The Post Offfice is overrated plus the mnies that we are spending at the USPS does not compare to the service that UPS, FEDEX or any other organization that mails.

Posted by: jonacameronsr | January 6, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Since mail volume is decreasing so to should the number of employees. Also, the number of days the mail is delivered needs to begin to decrease to match volume!

Posted by: Jimbo77 | January 6, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

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