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NC’s Small Businesses Say USPS Needed Now More Than Ever

Many retailers who have made the switch from brick-and-mortar to online-only sales during the pandemic are relying heavily on their local postal service. (Adobe Stock)
Many retailers who have made the switch from brick-and-mortar to online-only sales during the pandemic are relying heavily on their local postal service. (Adobe Stock)
August 10, 2020

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- North Carolina's small businesses say they are relying on the U.S. Postal Service to help get them get through the coronavirus pandemic by ensuring their products and supplies are delivered on time.

The agency recently has made several operational changes, including the reduction of overtime pay and ordering packages be kept overnight at distribution centers if running late.

Vicki Lee Parker-High, executive director of the North Carolina Business Council, says sales among small businesses in the state are down by 11%, some shops have shut their doors and others simply are trying their best to stay open.

Parker-High stresses small businesses need the postal service now more than ever.

"For those who were trying to stay open, the postal service was a major partner for them, and to now have that partner not be there fully, we're going to see how that's going to ripple throughout our economy," she states.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy says he's implementing changes to address lack of revenue, but maintains packages are being delivered on time.

The agency reported losing $2.2 billion in the second quarter of the year.

Last month, Senate lawmakers introduced legislation that would create a $25 billion fund to help the Postal Service bounce back from coronavirus-related losses and expenses.

Michael Jozefowicz, who owns an antiques and furniture store in Asheville, says most of his business comes from eBay, and he's noticed a change in the amount of time it takes packages to reach their destination.

"Say I order something, estimated delivery date comes and goes, I know it's been shipped, because I have a tracking number, but it's just not coming," he relates. "Sometimes it comes a day later, sometimes it comes a week later. That's happening."

Jozefowicz says there is a sense of community among local postal workers and area business owners.

"I remember when this started," he recalls. "Kristin, our postal worker, knocked on the door and said, 'Listen, here's your mail, I just wanted to let you know that this COVID thing is not going to affect -- we're not going to close the post office. You're still going to get your mail.'"

Last week, Senate Democrats announced an investigation into reported USPS mail delays, and the potential impact on absentee ballot voting, prescription drugs and other critical mail.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC