Amazon isn’t hurting the US post office, and it might even be keeping it alive

Someone’s gotta ship all those Prime boxes.
Someone’s gotta ship all those Prime boxes.
Image: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
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Donald Trump is back to bashing Amazon, tweeting that the US Postal Service should “be charging MUCH MORE!” to the e-commerce company for its delivery and fulfillment services. (USPS couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.)

The service reported a net loss of $2.7 billion for the 2017 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, about half what it lost in each of the two years prior. That loss improved as USPS decreased expenses by about $4.7 billion from 2016, though revenue also shrunk by $1.8 billion.

Trump loves to attack Amazon and its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post. Yet  Amazon and the broader e-commerce sector aren’t what’s ailing the USPS. They just might be keeping it afloat.

Shipping and packages were a rare bright spot for USPS in 2017, one of two sub-categories of mail for which revenue increased, rather than declined. (The other was international mail.) The service shipped 11 billion pounds worth of packages, or 5.7 billion pieces, in the 2017 fiscal year, generating $19.5 billion in revenue.

That was 12% more revenue than packages made in the previous year, and $500 million more than even USPS expected, “due to e-commerce growth and the successful implementation of various marketing and sales campaigns,” it said in its annual report.

Revenue from shipping and packages is also on track to overtake sales from first-class mail (and it’s certainly not Amazon’s fault that no one sends letters anymore):

Amazon shares traded down slightly after Trump’s tweet. The company didn’t respond to a request for comment. Overall, Amazon’s stock is up nearly 60% this year.