An Post to trigger stamp price rise delayed by Covid
Rocketing freight costs will add 30 cent to international mail prices
“We talk about e-commerce and everyone thinks of the likes of Amazon, but actually over 50% of our parcels originate in Ireland.” Photograph: Getty Images
An Post will increase stamp charges by 10 per cent for domestic letters, while rocketing freight costs will add 30 cent to international mail prices, the State company will confirm on Wednesday.
National and international stamps were due to rise 10 cent in March 2020, but the first Covid-19 lockdown prompted An Post to stall the price increases.
The company now intends to increase domestic letter charges by 10 cent to €1.10 from May 27th.
However, international post charges will rise 30 cent to €2 from the same date to cover freight cost hikes sparked by the sharp fall in flights in and out of the Republic.
David McRedmond, An Post chief executive, said the cost of air freight has “quadrupled” since last year as worldwide travel bans grounded most aircraft.
“The whole international postage system has been really stressed by the fact that there are very few flights,” he added.
He said the price increase would simply allow An Post to break even on international letters. Should freight costs fall significantly, he said, the company would consider cutting the price again.
An Post argued that its last increase was four years ago, and that it invested the extra cash in the service, which ultimately allowed it to maintain deliveries and post offices through the pandemic.
The company pledged to extend discounts of 34 per cent on parcel post and 5 per cent on letters to the end of this year for small and medium-sized businesses through the An Post Advantage Card scheme. Mr McRedmond confirmed that the letter discount would apply at the new rates, so small businesses still faced an increase.
However, he maintained that the 34 per cent discount on parcel prices, which are remaining the same, would have a greater impact for small enterprises.
“What they are saying to us is that what they really want is an absolutely reliable service,” said Mr McRedmond.
The postal service chief said that parcel deliveries had increased over the last year as more smaller businesses turned to the internet to maintain sales. This had been particularly noticeable around Christmas, when companies were posting goods that would normally have been collected, Mr McRedmond said.
An Post says it will maintain supports including free post to and from nursing homes, free newspaper delivery to older customers and calling on vulnerable citizens to the end of the year.
According to the company, the increase brings standard national letter post in line with the European average of €1.10.
This reflects a 25 per cent fall in mail volumes over four years, which has increased the cost of posting each letter. Mr McRedmond said that mail volumes had held up better than expected in 2020.
He put the fall in letter deliveries down to e-mail not the price, and said that people understood that the company had to meet the cost of getting letters delivered the next day.
The cost of registered mail, large envelopes and packets within Ireland will not increase, An Post said.