I live in Hove, down on the Sussex Riviera. And it turns out that they want to close the nearest post office branch to me. It’s a Crown branch that’s very useful, close and convenient and always seems busy. But they say it’s no longer commercially viable.
Living as I do in the town centre, I have alternatives. There are three other branches within a mile. One in Brighton town centre in WH Smiths that always has long queues that I avoid at all costs. One in central Hove which is located in a newsagents and another up the hill that I never use. Only that one is also a Crown post office.
Needless to say a local campaign has sprung up and I have supported it. The petition centres around how this will affect local pensioners and vulnerable people. It doesn’t consider the potential business impact such a closure might have.
And let’s face it. Local post office branches have done little to innovate to embrace ecommerce and fully profit from how people live these days. Popping into the average Crown post office is a little like going back in time. The opening hours reflect an old-fashioned way of looking at life and there is no real effort to help businesses. The average Crown post office branch has all the commercial zeal and inviting verve of Jeremy Corbyn.
Where is the fast-track aisle for people sending parcels and buying profitable extra services? Where are the lockers to collect items from all manner of retailers? Where is the effort from the average Crown post office branch to make money at all? My local branch doesn’t have collections after 5pm and isn’t open on Sundays. Is yours?
I do hope my local post office isn’t shut down but, my goodness me, I’m not surprised they say it’s not commercially viable. It needs a bloody good kick up the arse.
It seems to me that if the Post Office put the same time and energy into transforming Crown post office branches as they do into consulting on how to shut them down then they might be surprised at how useful they could make these premises in the brave new world of ecommerce. Dear Post Office: join us in the 21st century!