by Sarah Moe
GCA Chair, Public Affairs Committee
USPS Challenges and Unexpected Opportunities
When it became evident that the Coronavirus would change our daily lives and business operations, we assumed, along with many in the industry, that it would also have a significant impact on the USPS. As businesses pulled back their mailings and our consumers restrained from extra shopping for cards, the early prediction was that the USPS would be operationally insolvent by June. Luckily, that estimate was initially revised to sometime before September 30, 2020, and due to unexpected volume increases in packages, further revised until 2021.
Data over the course of the past two quarters has shown that while traditional mail volume has been down an average of 25% each week of the crisis compared to the same week in 2019, package volumes have increased on average 60-70% and in some weeks by as much as 90%. This has allowed the USPS to earn enough revenue to extend its operational liquidity and reduce the pressure to act on its skeptics in Congress, beginning with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee with oversight on the USPS.
The latest figures released by the USPS predict they will remain operational through March of 2021, and possibly through October. This presents Congress with the opportunity to kick the (legislative) can down the road until next year, but this is of little comfort to the businesses and residents who depend on the Postal Service. In terms of “legislative time,” a possible crisis in March is right around the corner. Further complicating the outlook is the presidential elections and political discord in Washington, which limits opportunities to pass bipartisan legislation.
But none of this means we should stop our efforts to improve the USPS’s financial position.
The improved revenue picture for the USPS argues against a massive $89.4 billion cash infusion the USPS Board of Governors requested in May when the outlook was much bleaker. However, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have introduced a more thoughtful legislative approach. Their bill, S. 4174, would:
• Provide up to $25 billion in relief for COVID-related losses
• Require the USPS to certify the losses with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC)
• Normalize the terms and conditions of the $10 billion in additional loan authority approved in the CARES Act
• Most importantly, it would require the USPS to provide a long-term solvency plan within 9 months to ensure that it can chart a sustainable course once the COVID crisis has passed.
USPS expenses and net losses have been higher than forecast, yet these facts have not motivated Sen. Johnson and the administration to seriously consider the USPS’ outlook. Revenue based on increased package volume is not likely to be sustained post COVID.
The GCA has argued that the USPS should receive COVID-related assistance on the same basis that individuals, companies and agencies have been granted. A stable USPS is important to the economy and to our customers who must have confidence that the system will be in place to meet their needs. We are making every effort to ensure that meaningful relief is included in the next major COVID relief package.
You can join GCA’s efforts by texting “Mail” to 52866 from your phone. We’ll send you a link that will enable you encourage your Members of Congress to support the USPS. Taking action is as easy as sending a text.
LOUIE Awards 2020
by LOUIE Awards Committee
Thank you to those of you that could join us for the 2020 Virtual LOUIE Award Celebration on July 30th! We hope you enjoyed our Educational Webinar, The Future of Trade Shows, as well as the announcements of all the winning designs. We want to give a final thanks to our webinar panelists and LOUIE presenters – we appreciate all the information and your hard work, as well as to our generous event sponsors.
One more thanks is to YOU, our community; thank you so much for supporting the LOUIE Awards! Congratulations once again to our finalists and winners. To see the finalists and LOUIE Award winners, click here.
Since 1988, the greeting card industry has come together each year to celebrate the best our industry has to offer. Hundreds of companies from around the world enter thousands of their best cards for the chance to win the coveted LOUIE Award. The deadline typically falls at the end of the calendar year.
One of the best things about the program is the number of new publishers who enter and win each year! The finalists are announced in late February, and the GCA promotes every finalist on the web and through social media. The announcement of the finalists gives us an opportunity to share the spotlight with some truly gifted greeting card publishers, designers, and artists. The excitement continues to build until May when the winners are announced.
That’s only the beginning. Each spring, our fabulous publishers and GCA Associate members come together again to design and build an outstanding awards celebration. This is where the LOUIE Award winners are announced for the first time. Not even the finalists know who will win, so we encourage all finalists and greeting card professionals to attend! Because our awards program is all about excellence in printing, our volunteers also create the invitations, program, and other items seen each year at the LOUIE Awards celebration.
Following the LOUIE Awards celebration, each winner is automatically entered into our annual Consumer’s Choice competition. Through the Consumer’s Choice Awards, LOUIE Award winners can expect increased exposure, press coverage, and lots of social media attention from thousands of consumers.
Thinking of You Week 2020
Nicky Burton, Calypso Cards, Subcommittee Chair
The lead up to Thinking of You Week 2020, September 21-27, is well underway, with weekly giveaways on Instagram helping to spread the word to consumers over the summer, culminating in a jackpot giveaway in September! Posters are available for retailers who would like to promote the event through various publishers. The USPS Thinking of You. Mail a card, deliver a smile postmark will once again be featured on all first-class mail for the whole month of September. Please visit www.thinkingofyouweekusa.com for more information!
Alan Friedman, Great Arrow Graphics, Committee Chair
Happy summer to all our GCA member companies… hope you are well, keeping cool and staying connected. Our GCA mentorship Town Hall meetings have been a great venue for seeing friends, talking shop and keeping in the loop during these distanced times. Kudos to Carlos Llanso for tending bar at these great events. If you are not receiving invites, drop us a line and we will add you to the list.
Eleven new companies were accepted as GCA members by unanimous vote at our July board meeting… please join me in welcoming:
Karen Adams Designs
Katie Blanchard Art + Works
Lemon Lines Paper LLC
Paisley Paper Co.
Pen & Wit
We look forward to getting to know you better.
Workshop & Retreat Committee
Dave Phipps, Avanti Press, Committee Chair
Whenever two or more GCA members are in the room together, great things happen! One of the core missions of the GCA is to bring members together to share experiences and ideas, and the annual Workshop & Retreat is a great place to do that. While we can’t exactly be in the same room together this year, the opportunity to share space and time is stronger than ever. A virtual Workshop & Retreat could allow more members to join in from across the country, skipping the hassles and expense of travel, and getting together to focus on the challenges and opportunities we all face right now.
Help us develop a virtual event that works for you by taking our 15 question survey. Please feel free to share this link with anyone in your organization who hasn’t been able to attend in the past, or other publishers you know who might benefit from and add value to the conversations!
Fill out the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GCA2020Workshop
George White, Up With Paper, Committee Co-Chair
The Noted: Greeting Card Expo committee continues to look forward to when the community can all meet again face to face, but until then, Noted will continue to create events to allow us to gather virtually. In mid July, the community held Noted: A Focus on Diversity. This event recognized the need for more diversity in our industry and introduced nine Black Owned Businesses/Makers to the retail community via our Pitch Program, a program that was very successful in Brooklyn and again during Virtual Noted in May. The Black Makers Pitch Program in July was a success on all fronts, but as a community we started down the path to make no community underrepresented inside our own. The Noted team is looking for community members that want to help continue to shape the future of these events.
Look forward to live events The Noted team continues to meet and communicate regularly. For 2021, we hope to return to San Francisco on Thursday April 29 to Saturday May 1, though nothing is confirmed at this time (but we suggest you mark your calendars). We continue to monitor COVID’s impact on live events and will keep in consideration whether late April 2021 timing will be considered safe and appropriate for the community. In the meantime, please follow us @Noted_Expo to stay current on all things Noted!