Price rises for 1st and 2nd class stamps
Stamp prices are to go up for both first and second class options, the Royal Mail has announced.
The price of a first class stamp will rise by 10p to 95p on 4th April 2022.
The cost of a second class stamp will go up by 2p to 68p on 4th April 2022.
Royal Mail said prices had to go up as Brits are sending fewer letters, and because inflation is so high, increasing its running costs.
A statement said:
“Royal Mail has considered these pricing changes very carefully in light of the long term structural decline in letter usage and rising inflation.
Letter volumes have declined by more than 60% since their peak in 2004/5, and around 20% since the start of the pandemic.”
If stamp prices stayed the same, it would mean the Royal Mail could not continue its ‘universal service’, it warned. This is the promise that it costs the same price to send a letter to any address in the UK, six days a week.
Royal Mail chief commercial officer Nick Landon said:
“We understand that many companies and households are finding it hard in the current economic environment, and we will always keep our prices as affordable as possible.
Whilst the number of letters our postmen and women deliver has declined from around 20billion a year to around 7billion since 2004/5, the number of addresses they have to deliver to have grown by around 3.5million in the same period.
We need to carefully balance our pricing against declining letter volumes and increasing costs of delivering to a growing number of addresses six days a week.”
The Royal Mail also defended its price hike decision by saying Brits pay less for their stamps than almost anywhere else in Europe. The postal service said the average cost of sending a first class letter in Europe is £1.36.
However, before you rush out and buy a load of 1st and 2nd class stamps to beat the increase … read on.
New stamps on the way
Royal Mail is shaking up the rules on stamps, so if you’ve got a stash that say ‘1st’ or ‘2nd’ class on them, then by 31st January 2023 you’ll no longer be able to simply stick them on a letter and use them. This is because Royal Mail is moving to a new barcode system, which these stamps don’t have.
Over the years, many people have stocked up and bulk-bought in advance as, provided the stamp doesn’t have a price on it and instead just says the postage class, it’s still valid after a price hike. This has been an effective tactic, as currently a first-class letter stamp is now 85p, whereas a decade ago it was just 60p. However, if you find you have a stash of the older stamps, you’ll either have to use them by 31st January 2023, or swap them for the new variety.
If you try to use these stamps – and this includes all those with the Queen’s head on them that say ‘1st’ or ‘2nd’ class, or any other price, or those that are Christmas-themed – after this cut-off date they will not be valid, and you will have to pay a surcharge. Though, Royal Mail is yet to confirm what this surcharge is or how it will work in practice.
“Special” commemorative stamps, such as the Doctor Who collection, are the only exception, as these are not being phased out and can continue to be used after 31st January 2023.
Reinventing stamps for the future
Following a successful national trial, Royal Mail will now be adding unique barcodes to all regular ‘every day’ Definitive and Christmas stamps. Each barcoded stamp will have a digital twin, and the two will be connected by the Royal Mail App. The unique barcodes will facilitate operational efficiencies, enable the introduction of added security features and pave the way for innovative services for customers.
Definitive stamps are the stamps that will be very familiar to most people. They feature the profile of HM The Queen. The barcodes match the stamp colour and sit alongside the main body of the stamp, separated by a simulated perforation line. The new barcode is an integral part of the stamp and must remain intact for the stamp to be valid.
Transition to Barcoded Stamps
Non-barcoded stamps will be phased out, but will remain usable until 31 January 2023. Customers are encouraged to use their non-barcoded stamps before this date. Alternatively, non-barcoded stamps can be exchanged for the new barcoded version through Royal Mail’s ‘Swap Out’ scheme.
The ‘Swap Out’ scheme will open on 31 March 2022. Forms will be available via a variety of channels, including local Customer Service Points; the Royal Mail website and via the Royal Mail Customer Experience team. Customers will be able to use a Freepost address.
You will not be able to swap stamps at a Post Office.
Further details can be found on the Royal Mail website here.
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