In the early days of internet usage the usage of snail mail held up quite well. Some reasoned that there might be complementarities between email and snail mail – improved electronic communications might lead to increased need for exchanging hard letter documents. There also seemed to be a considerable rise in bulk commercial mail.
Whatever complementarities might have existed now seem to have vanished however – in the US the snail mail service is in serious retreat. Joshua Gans makes related observations on the Australian service – where a price increase is being sought to fund the postal service’s fixed costs. The price increase will, as Joshua points out, drive a further nail into the letter business coffin. There are some difficult regulatory issues here.
Most of the snail mail I receive these days is commercial advertising and book, journal and magazine packages. Even bulk Xmas messages are being increasingly sent in lieu of Xmas cards.