Stamp prices to inch higher Sunday

Published 9:34 am Friday, January 20, 2017

The price of a stamp is going back to what it was in 2014.

For the first time in three years, the price of a stamp will increase Sunday by 2 cents — from 47 cents to 49 cents.

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“First-Class Mail Single-Piece stamp prices are being changed,” said Enola C. Rice, corporate communications for the U.S. Postal Service in the Suncoast and Mississippi Districts.

The last time the stamp saw an increase was in January 2014, when it was raised from 46 cents to 49 cents. In April 2016, the price of the stamp actually decreased from 49 cents to 47 cents — the first decrease the Postal Service has issued in 97 years.

“The Postal Service was forced to reduce prices by the Postal Regulatory Commission as part of the exigent surcharge removal,” Rice said.

Of course, Forever Stamps are called forever for a reason. Any stamp purchased for 47 cents before Sunday will be valid and usable.

“Customers are reminded that previously purchased First-Class Forever Stamps can always be used for First-Class Mail, and no additional postage is required, regardless of the cost of a First-Class stamp,” Rice said.

She said there would not be a price change on postcards, letters mailed internationally or weightier letters. However, Priority Mail prices will see an average 3.9 percent increase, and Priority Mail Retail prices will have an average increase of 3.3 percent. Rice said the USPS is the best value in shipping.

“The Postal Service adjusts its shipping prices annually just like other shipping companies,” Rice said. “Unlike other shippers, the Postal Service doesn’t add surcharges for fuel, residential delivery or Saturday delivery.”

Mary Welch owns Paper Plus and the Village Post Office at 1318 Washington St.

She said she received a notice informing her the price would be increased.

“This is the first increased we’ve had,” Welch said.

The post office portion of her store opened in April, the same month the stamp price decreased by 2 cents. Since the downtown post office has not been in operation during a stamp price increase, Welch isn’t sure how it will impact her business, but she isn’t concerned.

“I don’t think it will (impact sales),” she said, adding she hasn’t had any complaints yet. “That’s a commodity people have to have.”

Postage rates are based on the rate of inflation calculated by the Consumer Price Index, and Rice said only in extraordinary circumstances has the Postal Service strayed from that calculation method.

“Stamp prices have stayed consistent with the average annual rate of inflation since the Postal Service was formed in 1971,” Rice said.

Revenue generated by the increase in stamp prices pays for the services provided by the Postal Service to the public daily.

“The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations,” Rice said.