Stamping on consumer savings - what is the Royal Mail doing?

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Rewind to 27of March: Royal Mail announced stamp prices would rise on April30th.

First class from 46p to 60p... second class from 36p to 50p. Ofcourse to beat the rise all we had to do was buy plenty at the oldprice... there is no sell by date on them.

But now it's emerged that theRoyal Mail has placed what it calls "allocations" to limit thesupplies outlets can have.

So for example Superdrug has told us they have beentold they can have "no more stamps until April 30th."

The Royal Mail was founded in 1561
The Royal Mail was founded in 1561

What's happened is that the postal service has "capped supplies" before the price rise to 20% of each retailer's annual allocation.

They are trying to ensure that a disproportionate amount are not sold at the lower price - it is a clear measure to limit stockpiling and protect their revenue.

The postal service has told me "it is important the proceeds of this rise go to the Royal Mail... we have put in place a prudent allocation policy to safeguard revenues."

What seems to be happening is that big retailers often order 6 months supply in advance - if they get that sort of bulk at the lower price it would leave a gap in the Royal Mails pocket.

Royal Mail delivers 84million items a day
Royal Mail delivers 84million items a day Credit: Reuters

One big retailer, Morrisons supermarket, has told us that demand for stamps from its customers rocketed four- fold after the price rise announcement. Others say they actually ran out of stamps.

The Royal Mail insists there is a good supply of stamps from 45,000 outlets.

The best advice to consumers seems to be that if one retailer runs out - you'll find them at post offices or other outlets.

Royal Mail employs 130,000 permanent postal workers
Royal Mail employs 130,000 permanent postal workers

The increase in stamp prices will have impact on small businesses and those on low incomes - its understandable people will want to stock up.

Royal Mail thinks it can best ensure its future by protecting income - but I say it will have no future if it alienates its customers.

The price rise was bad enough - now they are rubbing salt into the wound and have a pr crisis on their hands.