August 8, 2013 10:09:10 AM
Two of the three post offices in Columbus have reduced their hours.
The shorter retail window hours of operation at the U.S. Postal Service's locations on Alabama Street and Main Street began Monday. The windows are open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The main post office on Bluecutt Road is keeping normal hours -- 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Enola Rice, spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service, said post offices across the country shortened their hours during the summer months because of reduced demand.
"A number of our customers are visiting post offices less often, especially during the summertime," she said.
The U.S. Postal Service re-evaluated its post offices earlier this year in an effort to identify which locations could be candidates for reduced hours. Rice said while specific statistics were not available, the Postal Service determined the level of customer activity by the number of transactions at different times of the day. The sites chosen for shortened hours simply saw fewer customers, Rice said.
"There were not large numbers of customers visiting those offices on a regular basis so it helps us to actually match our employees to the work flow and actually staff the post office in a way that is best being used by our customers," she said.
The U.S. Postal Service employees 68 people at its Columbus locations. None of the employees will lose hours as a result of the changes.
Rice added that the U.S. Postal Service is making its services available in different ways. There are online services at usps.com, the toll-free number (800) ASK-USPS and Office Depot, which the post office has partnered with, and that business stays open until 9 p.m.
The reduced "summer hours" at the post offices will continue through Sept. 30, but the time period could be extended. If that happens, Rice said, "we would have notifications posted in post offices so it wouldn't be a surprise to our customers."
There are no current plans to close either Alabama Street or the Main Street post offices, Rice said.
The post office on Taylor Street in Starkville remains open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the post office on Lee Boulevard at Mississippi State University is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Wednesday four people went to the Columbus post office on Main Street looking to get retail window service. One of them, 72-year-old David Murray, laughed and said he thought the clock in the his SUV must have been wrong. Murray, though, said he wouldn't be affected by the reduction in window hours. He keeps a post office box at the Main Street location.
"As long as that front door stays unlocked, I can do what I need to do in there," he said.
William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.
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