People only have a few days left to take advantage of purchasing first-class and second-class stamps before the price increase takes effect on April 3. Royal Mail said the price will rise by up to 16% - the most they have ever hiked up the cost of stamps.
This means, a first-class stamp will now cost £1.10 from 95p, breaking the £1 barrier for the first time. Meanwhile, a second-class stamp will also increase from 68p to 75p, which is an increase of just over 10%.
In an announcement made earlier this month, Royal Mail said the increases were needed to ensure the universal service, which means letter delivery costs the same irrespective of distance, “remains sustainable”. Its decision follows a 25% decline in letters since the pandemic.
Royal Mail said it remained committed to the universal service but that costs were increasing as “customer behaviours change”. It has asked the government to reduce its obligation to deliver letters six days a week, to five days.
Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail, said: “We appreciate that many businesses and households are facing a challenging economic environment and we are committed to keeping our prices affordable.
“We have to carefully balance our pricing against a continued decline in letter volumes and the increasing costs of delivering letters six days a week to an ever-growing number of addresses across the country.”
The move however has met with widespread criticism, with charity Citizens Advice saying it could not come at a worse time for consumers hit by the soaring food and energy bills owing to the cost of living crisis.
Matthew Upton, director of policy at Citizens Advice, said the higher cost of stamps came as many consumers endured postal delays. He said: “These record-breaking prices couldn’t be coming at a worse time for consumers, who’ll now be paying 64% more for a first class stamp than five years ago.
“Almost one in five people are already struggling with current prices for second class stamps. Royal Mail is choosing to hike prices at a time when millions are missing important letters, thanks to post delays. Nobody should be paying more for this kind of sub-par service.”
Research by Citizens Advice found that 60% of UK adults have experienced letter delays, with 6.2 million people missing important mail last Christmas, such as health appointment letters.