The U.S. Postal Service will shut down 252 offices and suspend several standard mailing options including next-day letter delivery, the organization announced Monday.
The Postal Service said it wants to slow first-class delivery and eliminate the possibility of next-day letter delivery by spring of 2012.
The organization cites decreasing volume as the main reason for the downsizing, adding that steps should be taken now to avert impending bankruptcy next year.
David Williams, USPS vice president for network operations, told reporters on Monday that the Postal Service wants to cut $20 billion in annual spending by 2015.
Williams expressed optimism that despite the changing landscape of communication, the Postal Service can thrive if it adapts.
"The fact of the matter is our network is too big. We've got more capacity in our network than we can afford," Williams said. "More importantly, we've got to set our network up so that when volume continues to drop, our network is nimble and flexible enough to respond to those volume losses."
Among the changes most likely to affect consumers is the timeframe of first-class deliveries – most of those will be delivered in two to three days, instead of one to three.
The changes will work in concert with a new electronic approach to mail, embracing technology instead of seeing it as a competitor. Williams spoke about why Americans are so quick to abandon the Postal Service.
"They're already choosing speed. They're choosing electronic bill payment, they're choosing electronic communication via the Internet and email," he said.
The USPS has been hemorrhaging money for several years. It lost $5.1 billion in the 2011 fiscal year and is expected to lose $14 billion next year.
"Our network is simply too big to handle the revenues that are coming in today but, more importantly, way too big for what we're projecting in the future," Williams said.
The agency has not disclosed which post offices will close and it did not rule out the possibility of future cuts to operations, offices and personnel.