Four in five SMEs affected by postal price hike

Four in five small businesses in the UK believe the change in postal rates - which came into effect on 30 April 2012 - will affect their business and the ways in which they communicate with customers.

Questioning 1,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the survey conducted by Pitney Bowes found that 81 per cent of businesses felt that increased postal rates would have a negative impact on their business; with seven per cent of those concerned it will put their business under threat.

The research follows Royal Mail's announcement earlier in the month that stamp prices were to rise by 30 per cent for a first class stamp, and by 39 per cent for second a second class stamp. Nearly half of those surveyed said the price of first class stamps will result in them sending less by post, and alter the ways in which they communicate - such as using email to contact customers.

The number of letters and parcels being sent second class through Royal Mail is predicted to increase because of the price changes, with a quarter of businesses surveyed saying they would use second class post more frequently. 15 per cent also said they were considering moving to a franking machine to avoid the price hike.

Phil Hutchison, marketing director of Pitney Bowes, said the new prices were inevitably going to have an effect on Britain's SMEs, but urged them to still consider the advantage of written communication.

"Successful customer communications depend on a delicate balance of message, medium and timing. Although digital communications undoubtedly have their place, traditional print campaigns are still critical for most businesses and are likely to remain so for many years to come."

As of 30 April, the price of second class stamps increased from 36p to 50p, and first class stamps increased from 46p to 60p.

The increase in price was made after regulator Ofcom granted Royal Mail greater freedom to set its own prices - with Ofcom saying Royal Mail was at 'severe risk' as consumers and businesses switch to other electronic means of communication.