Many local businesses and area utilities said Wednesday that they dont expect disruptions because of the U.S. Postal Services decision to stop Saturday mail service.
Representatives from Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas noted that a growing number of their customers have already switched to electronic bill-paying.
We dont really see an impact to our business, said Duke Energy spokeswoman Paige Layne. Even if a bill that used to arrive on Saturday now gets delivered on Monday, clients will still have ample time to pay, Layne said.
In 2006, about 28 percent of Duke Energy customers paid online.
Now, 50 percent pay online and only 35 percent of customers mail in payments another indicator of the struggles facing the postal service in a new digital communication age.
About half of Piedmont Gas customers still pay by mail, said company spokesman David Trusty. And though no concrete corporate decisions on the matter have been made, he said he doesnt anticipate that the new mail schedule will affect the bill payment cycle.
Just as customers dont count on mailing their payments on Sunday, theyll adjust to no-mail Saturdays as well, Trusty said.
I think that while it may take a small period of adjustment for people to build that into their thinking, its not going to be a long-term or even a short-term issue, Trusty said.
The decision to shrink delivery from six to five days a week will only affect first-class mail. Packages, mail-order medicines, Priority and Express Mail will still be delivered.
Dave Yochum, editor and owner of community newspapers Cornelius Today and Business Today, says he spends tens of thousands of dollars a year on postage. But he doesnt expect the new schedule will affect when his readers get the newspapers. His papers arent classified as first-class, he said, and he usually has them delivered before Saturday.
Though the U.S. Postal Service has reduced its number of carriers by 200,000 nationwide since 2006, the new five-day schedule wont cause more local layoffs, said Monica Robbs, the Postal Services corporate communications specialist for North Carolina.
Robbs said the new schedule would help save money on costs related to fuel and processing.
Local Hallmark franchises wouldnt comment on the Post Offices announcement, but Hallmark Cards has long paid federal lobbyists to fight against five-day-a-week delivery.
On the other hand, Tim Hamilton, co-owner of the gift shop Paper Skyscraper on East Boulevard, said he isnt worried.
At first blush, I cant imagine that it would affect our business selling cards, Hamilton said. The cards we sell, a lot of times, those are handed to someone with a gift, not mailed. But is that going to stop you from buying a card just because it isnt going to get there on Saturday? No. Much ado about nothing.