January 4, 2019

Mailboxes for Sale

Mailboxes for Sale

Let me start this week’s column by wishing you all a very Happy New Year. It’s always nice to get back to work after a relaxing holiday week, and this year was no exception. As I mentioned in my last column of 2018, Tracy and I headed to South Florida with the whole family – all seven of us – an annual tradition that I appreciate more each year, as our kids get older. And this year, South Florida served up outstanding weather. Every day was nicer than the previous one. I hope you and your family enjoyed any time off you took for the holidays and are off to a great start in the New Year.

Another tradition I used to enjoy at this time of year was the virtual avalanche of holiday and New Year’s cards that would arrive throughout December and into January. I don’t know how much the mail carriers enjoyed it (although all those postage stamps helped keep the U.S. Postal Service solvent), but you have to admit that receiving the many well wishes and sparkle in the mail was something to look forward to. Of course, in today’s digital world, holiday cards sent via snail mail are practically a thing of the past. Now many of the greetings come in an email, including Marcum’s.

To counteract the digital trend and the lost postal revenues it signifies, the government has hatched a plan to sell access to our mailboxes. “Certified private delivery companies” would be allowed to deliver letters and small parcels to our mailboxes, instead of our doorsteps, for the first time.

“By franchising the mailbox, the USPS could expand its revenue and income opportunities without necessitating any change to its current mail products,” a government report on the proposal explained.

I’m all for keeping the Post Office alive. Still, much as I like the idea of finding new revenue for the USPS, I’m not sure if this idea makes any sense. How many packages will actually fit in a typical mailbox? How would the Post Office find a market in a city like New York, where millions of residents, including me, live in buildings with mail slots, not boxes? And what about all those Amazon deliveries? Talk about an avalanche!

Then again, with 3-D printers coming down in price, the day may come when people start printing consumer products in their homes, instead of ordering them online. That could mean fewer deliveries. Still, online retailers like Amazon have gotten so good at coming up with new things for the public to buy that even with 3D printing, they’ll probably keep on growing. If that’s the case, maybe someone like Jeff Bezos will make an offer to buy the Post Office. Now that could be really interesting. And I’m sure he’d make money running that operation, too.

Well, as all my Januarys start out, I’ll be on the road again next week, as I am for much of the month. I’m headed to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) semi-annual major firms’ group meeting in Naples, Florida. There, I’ll get to hear the current trends and happenings in the accounting profession, as well as interact with the leaders of the profession and the CEOs and managing partners of most, if not all, of the major U.S. accounting firms. It’s a great forum for Marcum to keep its finger on the pulse of what’s happening to continue to serve our clients well.