September 16, 2019 (RISC-WP-19-009)

  • Rural customers value the social aspects of the Postal Service in their communities — more than half of rural customers know either their postmaster, clerk, or carrier by name.
  • The majority of rural and non-rural customers want weeknight post office retail window hours, but rural post offices offer a disproportionately small share of weeknight hours.
  • A majority of rural retail hours occur at facilities that lack retail survey data, which could hinder the Postal Service’s ability to assess and cater to rural customer needs and wants.

For more than 200 years, the Postal Service has been a mainstay in rural America, which the OIG found values the Postal Service for not just its package and mail services but also its presence in the community. For example, more than half (56 percent) of rural customers know either their postmaster, clerk, or carrier by name. The OIG found that this type of familiarity drives positive experiences at post offices generally.

To examine how rural Americans currently engage with the Postal Service, the OIG fielded a nationally-representative survey of rural and non-rural Americans, hosted a moderated online discussion board, and conducted interviews with Postal Service employees and executives.

The OIG’s research found that rural customers are more likely than non-rural customers to say USPS is valuable to their community. Rural customers, however, are less likely than non-rural customers to have mail or package delivery service at their physical address. Because customers in rural areas may be more likely to have to go to a post office to pick up their packages, parcel lockers could be increasingly important in rural areas. Furthmore, rural customers want additional non-core post office hours, specifically weeknight retail window hours.

These insights tell part of a larger story of what rural customers want from the Postal Service today. Gathering periodic feedback from rural customers could help the Postal Service ensure retail products and services reflect customer input. By better understanding the needs and wants of its rural customers moving forward, the Postal Service can continue to provide quality service for all Americans.

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Comments (6)

  • anon

    Our rural area is on the verge of becoming a new town in Nevada, what is the process to get a post office? Currently, our residents have to travel 20+ miles to visit a USPS office. There are other rural areas that have as many as 10 offices in a 200-mile area, our new town will be approximately 200 miles and we have nothing.

    Aug 26, 2020
  • anon

    Day before last 3 boxes were left for me in the Street Side mail boxes. The key to retrieve them was put in my mail box, but the postal carrier left the bin with the boxes wide open and unlocked. Thank God my neighbor found them and brought them to me, some very expensive items could have easily been stolen thanks to the lousy, sleeping on the job postal carrier. I am extremely disappointed they employ such people who do not take this job serious, dealing with the U.S. Mail. They should be fired, there are plenty of people looking for a job that could do it much better.

    Dec 06, 2019
  • anon

    I believe it is very important to the people who believe in our Constitution to be able to have the services they request. If we take away these routes and jobs we hurting our own citizens and our own future of the world.

    Nov 26, 2019
  • anon


    Sep 17, 2019
  • anon

    Better service to rural customers could be achieved if the rule precluding door to door delivery to those points within a quarter mile of the postal facility was rescinded.

    Sep 16, 2019
  • anon

    I believe the rule is for up to 1/2 mile in rural areas. Sometimes, however, roads are not serviceable due to terrain (ruts) or deep sand which can cause a delivery vehicle to become stuck. The residents have all-terrain vehicles for passage but a vehicle to carry mail may not have the appropriate tire size or clearance underneath to make back to the residence.

    May 17, 2020