Post boxes no longer cover their costs, Royal Mail said as it announced plans to bring forward collection times for 50,000 post boxes across the country, with late collections moved to 3pm where it was previously 4pm or later.
Just over half of Royal Mail’s 115,000 post box network will remain largely untouched by the change in schedules, though the company is encouraged by Ofcom survey data that indicates that consumers are open to the idea of moving collection times, particularly at low-volume boxes.
In a statement, Royal Mail said: “Rather than decommission uneconomic postboxes, while staying within the regulated density requirement, Royal Mail will ensure their viability by improving efficiency of its collections arrangements.”
The move will target boxes in urban and suburban areas, with the Royal Mail also announcing its intention to increase postal access for rural communities by establishing 2,000 new boxes.
Ofcom, which last year introduced a rule that post boxes be found within half a mile of 98 per cent of all UK households, said: “Ofcom recognises the need for Royal Mail to become more efficient so it can sustain a universal postal service that consumers value highly.”
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said the move is “disappointing” for consumers and businesses.
He blamed the reduction of service on the controversial privatisation of the organisation last year: “In their unnecessary fire sale of Royal Mail, the Tory-led government put vital postal services at risk and, as many feared when the privatisation took place, we are now seeing consumers losing out.”