Hold Mail changes

The Postal Service has modified its Hold Mail service to assist business customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

If a carrier must return mail to a Post Office because the business customer’s box is full or the business isn’t open for an extended period, USPS will hold the mail until May 30.

After May 30, the Postal Service will offer these customers a 15-day grace period before the mail items are returned to sender.

Once the business reopens, delivery should immediately resume unless other arrangements have been made. Customers may request to have their held mail delivered, or they can pick it up at their local Post Office.

If the business fails to make alternative delivery arrangements or does not submit a request to hold or forward its mail after May 30 and the 15-day grace period, the process of returning mail to the sender will resume.

The Postal Service distributed a stand-up talk this week that explains the new procedures.

Change in tack

The Postal Service is taking a different approach to reach out to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Postmasters and local business development specialists have been provided materials to help them host online Grow Your Business Day events during the first week of May, which has traditionally been observed as National Small Business Week.

USPS wants Postmasters and business development specialists to work with chambers of commerce, U.S. Small Business Administration offices and others to invite local small businesses to attend a “Virtual Grow Your Business Day” event using the Zoom online meeting platform.

Postmasters will host the events and have been asked not to make a presentation, but instead to invite attendees to talk about how they are holding up and what challenges they are facing.

“This is not really a sales pitch,” said Lou DeRienzo, small-business senior sales specialist at USPS headquarters in Washington, DC.

“These events are about having the local Postmaster and business development specialist show that we care about our business customers and want to help ensure that they are able to stay afloat during the crisis and be able to come back strong once the danger has passed. If we are willing to listen to their concerns, we may be able to assist them and not only grow new business, but strengthen our bond within our communities.”

The small-business sales team is hoping to have more than 2,000 Virtual Grow Your Business Day events take place in early May and throughout the summer.

The U.S. Small Business Administration postponed National Small Business Week, which was to have been May 3-8, after the spread of the coronavirus prompted a national health emergency. Governors in several states issued stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines, which forced many businesses to close and disrupted the operations of others.

“The Postal Service has always been there to help small businesses and we want them to know, as our new TV commercial says, that we’ll continue to be there for them,” said Mary Anderson, small-business engagement director at USPS headquarters. “We want to help save Main Street USA and build loyal customers who won’t forget that we reached out to them in their time of need.”

Older Americans Month

Older Americans Month, an annual celebration of older adults, began May 1.

This year’s theme is “Make Your Mark.”

The theme was selected to “encourage and celebrate countless contributions that older adults make to our communities. Their time, experience and talents benefit family, peers and neighbors every day,” according to the Administration for Community Living, the federal agency that organizes Older Americans Month.

The number of people age 65 and older in the United States reached 49.2 million in 2016, accounting for 15.2 percent of the total population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

By 2060, the number of people 65 and older is projected to reach 98.2 million — 1 in 4 U.S. residents — according to the bureau. Of this number, 19.7 million will be 85 or older.

The Postal Service is encouraging employees to participate in Older Americans Month by helping to raise awareness of aging issues.

The Administration for Community Living’s website has more information.