Forever Stamp a hot item with prices set to rise again

Sunday, March 9, 2008 10:10 PM CDT

Sales of the U.S. Postal Service's Forever Stamp are expected to pick up as savvy consumers try and beat a scheduled increase in the cost to mail a first-class letter.

The price of a first-class mail stamp will increase to 42 cents May 12, up a penny from the 41-cent price now.

Despite the increased cost to mail a first-class letter, USPS spokeswoman Valerie Hughes said the service that will be provided by the 42 cents remains a bargain.

"I do think most Americans think there is a lot of value in paying just 42 cents to mail a letter anywhere in the country," she said.

"You can't even buy a candy bar or a pack of gum at that price."

Hughes said there is always some grumbling when the cost of a stamp goes up, but since the postal service is not taxpayer-supported, the increase is necessary.

"All of our revenue comes from the sale of our products and services. Sometimes we have to increase our prices because our costs are also going up," she said. "Look at the price of gas. We have one of the largest vehicle fleets in the nation. You can imagine what the price of gas is doing to us."

Hughes said the postal service hopes a new product, the Forever Stamp, will help ease the transition to the new price.

In post offices now, the stamp costs 41 cents and can be used after the scheduled increase on May 12 as well as after any other future increases. Forever Stamps will also be available after the May increase, but will be sold at the higher price.

"Consumers can continue to use the Forever Stamps they purchased for 41 cents even after this price change and any future price changes,"

Makanda Postmaster Laura Depolo said in a press release, "The postal service developed the Forever Stamp for consumers to ease through the transition during price changes."

Not everyone is concerned about the coming higher stamp price.

"Everything else is going up," Marion resident Eddie Smith said. "Why not the price of a stamp? It won't bother me too much. I hardly ever use stamps anyway. I pay most of my bills online." / 927-5633

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