WASHINGTON — Holiday shipping and the 2012 election helped the Postal Service stem its losses, but the agency’s financial woes continued in the first quarter, which ended Dec 31.
The Postal Service posted a $1.3 billion loss in the first quarter, compared with a $3.1 billion loss over the same period last year. The agency said the first quarter has traditionally been one of its strongest periods.
Total mail volume continued to decline, however. Mail volume was 43.5 billion pieces for the quarter, according to agency officials.
Revenue from first-class mail, which provides the bulk of the revenue for the Postal Service, declined $237 million, or 3.1 percent, from the same period last year, with a decrease in volume of 834 million pieces, or 4.5 percent. Revenue from advertising mail increased $141 million, or 3.1 percent, in the first quarter compared with the same period last year on a volume increase of 783 million pieces, or 3.6 percent. The increase is largely attributable to official election mail and political campaign advertising.
The agency’s shipping and packaging business increased by $154 million, or 4.7 percent, over 2012 first-quarter results, fueled by the growth of online shopping and the continuing success of Postal Service marketing campaigns to promote shipping services.
The agency also said that it cut its operating costs to $18.9 billion from $20.9 billion over the same period last year, a decrease of 9.8 percent.