Coming soon to a post office near you: Gift cards
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
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