Transactions in post offices are estimated to be down by 25% when comparing figures for the month of August versus 2019, heightening serious viability challenges facing the network.
Postmasters have warned that coronavirus is having a very serious negative impact on transactions in post offices, and by extension cash spending in local economies.
IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara said the challenges facing village and town economies, and their Post Offices, will need a new response from Government.
The IPU said people should be offered the choice of weekly or bi-weekly for all payments, as this would support local economies, help some people to better manage their finances and support business at post pffices.
“There are two connected happenings that Postmasters are reporting. Firstly, Post Offices are much quieter due to coronavirus. Second is the effect this has on other businesses.
“On weeks where little welfare is paid out, activity in the surrounding businesses can be ghostly. Government needs to recognise and connect these two factors.
“The local Post Office is about much more than the Post Office itself.”
The IPU’s concern was amplified by Chambers Ireland, which represents local businesses across the country. Chief Executive Ian Talbot said: “Chambers Ireland’s surveys have shown that SME’s, which support 63% of jobs, are the businesses most affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
“A recent survey found that SMEs saw their revenue collapse by 53% during the initial pandemic period. Less frequent payment of welfare at post offices is a contributory factor to this and a balance needs to be achieved which protects public safety, but also supports SMEs and jobs.”
Grant Thornton has carried out a comprehensive market review and financial analysis of the post office network, its findings will be published in an independent report next Wednesday, September 30th.