Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Royal Mail's third set of price increases since Spring 2020 - 1 January 2021

Many collectors have said that the release of stamps for Star Trek would mean the end of their collecting.  And for those who haven't already decided, Royal Mail's announcement today of new rates from 1 January 2021 will probably spell the end of buying new issues, with the basic set of 10 x 1st class stamps increasing from £7.60 to £8.50.

 

Press Release 1 December 2020

We understand that many companies and households are finding it hard in the current economic environment. As a result, we have considered any pricing changes very carefully and in doing so have sought to minimise any impact on our customers.

From 1 January, 2021 the price of a 1st Class stamp will increase by 9p to 85p and the price of a 2nd Class stamp will increase by 1p to 66p. These changes are necessary to help ensure the sustainability of the one-price-goes-anywhere Universal Service.

The Universal Service Obligation, which requires Royal Mail to be able to deliver to 31 million home and business addresses across the UK, comes with high fixed costs. During the coronavirus pandemic, letter volumes saw a 28% fall. The reduction in letter volumes has had a significant impact on the finances of the Universal Service which lost £180 million in the first half of the year. This demonstrates the need for change in the Universal Service. We are working tirelessly to deliver the most comprehensive service we can in difficult circumstances as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact our operation.

The health and safety of our colleagues and our customers remains our number one priority. This means we have faced significant, additional costs related to COVID-19 (£85 million for the first six months) such as protective equipment, elevated absences, overtime and agency staff as well as the impact of necessary social distancing measures.

Royal Mail has taken a decision not to call upon the Government’s furlough scheme (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) throughout the pandemic. Royal Mail’s stamp prices are among the best value in Europe compared to other postal operators. Royal Mail research shows that the European average price for 1st Class letters (0-100g) is £1.21.

Nick Landon Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail said: “Like other companies, 2020 has been a challenging year for Royal Mail. Our people have worked tirelessly to keep the UK connected throughout the pandemic and associated restrictions. These price increases will help us continue to deliver and sustain the Universal Service in challenging circumstances.”

 

UK Inland Postage Rates from 1 January 2020

The headline increase of 1st class stamps is bound to cause a furore in some quarters, whilst the 1p increase in 2nd class will satisfy most social users of the mails, sending greetings cards.  

But for collectors the increase across international rates will impact on many more stamp issues.  It is possible that Stamps & Collectibles will be asked to make a contribution and increase the cost of some products, such as stamp cards and blank first day envelopes, as well as the premium on presentation packs and prestige stamp books.   It will also mean some more inventiveness in the Post and Go area as rates are combined.  (See below)

Airmail letter rates are simplified to a minimum of £1.70 which covers up to 20g Worldwide, and Europe up to 100g.  100g rates for Zones 1, 2 & 3 are standardised at £2.55 - which means the Post and Go imprint for these can revert to Zones 1-3.  However, this means that the existing £1.45 and £1.70 rates are now covered by £1.70 and the £2.50 and £2.55 rates are now covered by £2.55, leaving two gaps in the set of 6.  News about changes as we get it.

UPDATE: It is very rare that multiples of any stamp work for another rate, but it has been pointed out to me that 2 x 1st class = £1.70, and 3 x 1st class = £2.55.

NEW DEFINITIVES 

Unlike in the summer and autumn, this time Royal Mail will issue new stamps for the airmail rates.  It is to be hoped that these new stamps will suffice and that there will be no change in March.  There will be three Machin definitives and £1.70 country definitives:

New £1.70, £3.25 and £4.20 Machin definitives 23 December 2020

New £1.70 country definitives 23 December 2020

The new  £1.70 stamps cover the 100g letter rate for Europe, and the Worldwide rate up to 20g.

The £3.25 is for European and the £4.20 is for Worldwide Large Letters to 100g.

Colours are announced as £1.70 - Marine Turquoise, £3.25 - Aqua Green, and £4.20 Plum Purple.

The usual first day covers and facilities will be provided.

The £2.55 Garnet Red stamp first issued on 21 March 2017 will also be reprinted but as it is not a new issue* it will not be on Royal Mail first day covers. [Thanks to Robert for the comment that "The £2.55 from 2017 was printed by De La Rue, the new printing will be by Walsall." ] 

However being reprinted it will obviously have a new year code of either M20L or M21L* (the illustration above shows M21L).  Collectors interested in having first day covers with either this stamp alone, or added to the three on the Royal Mail cover are invited to contact us in the usual way as soon as possible.  (Please do not order via a comment on this post.)


* We have received information from Royal Mail Edinburgh indicating that all four new stamps has been printed with the M20L code (as they should be).  We would expect that before March is out we may well see the first reprints with M21L code, as the £1.70 at least will be more widely used as it replaced what was previously served by the £1.45 rate.

UPDATE 11 December
Thanks to CB & IM for reporting that the (non-visible change) £2.55 is being distributed by Royal Mail on standing order, but not until the first commemorative issue on 14 January 2021.  So that is likely to count as the first day of availability, there being no official first day of issue for this stamp.  If that is confirmed by my contacts at Edinburgh then the first day covers for this 'set' will have to be dual-dated.  

UPDATE 16 December  We have now received supplies of the new stamps and confirm that despite the fact that they were printed in 2020, and will first go on sale in 2020, they are coded M21L, except for the £2.55 which is coded M20L and we suspect some post offices may delay its sale. 

PICTURES OF ACTUAL STAMPS

Sheet of 25 x £2.55 Machin definitives coded M20L printed 01/10/20

Sheet of 25 x £1.70 Machin definitives coded M21L printed 01/10/20

Sheet of 25 x £3.75 Machin definitives coded M21L printed 01/10/20

Sheet of 25 x £4.20 Machin definitives coded M21L printed 01/10/20





Grid Positions show that One primary sheet of 8 sheets of 25 was used for England, and another primary sheet was used for the other countries.  Of these the Scotland stamp was printed in the first two columns, Northern Ireland in column 3 and Wales column 4.

Grid positions on sheets of £1.70 country definitive stamps.

Sorry for the not as good as usual quality of these images, I'll try to do a different picture for the £2.55 in different light - today the light is very indifferent!





What isn't obvious from the picture of the England stamp above is a curious flaw on the stamp adjacent to the printing date.  This may be a foreign body on the magenta plate - or something else.  Suggestions welcome!

Magenta 'hairs' on England £1.70 stamp.


POST AND GO

With the top four valued stamps now combined into two, Royal Mail will use the two spaces created for the Europe and Worldwide Large Letter stamps, increasing the total cost from the current £11.64 to a massive £13.84.  Fortunately if they ever issue any more pictorial series they will almost certainly be in packs of 6 x 1st.

UPDATE 2 December - An illustrated example of the Post and Go effects and write up by Brian is on his Postage Labels UK blog.  (Currently heading the list of 'other blogs' on the right of the page on web view.)

We have been told that The Postal Museum will be open on 1 January (unless further Covid restrictions are imposed) and so their Post and Go stamps will be available on the first day that the new rates are applicable.  It is likely that (with the same caveat) some independent franchised branches and some ex-Crown offices in WHSmith shops will also be open so collectors wanting first day covers on the first operational date for ordinary NCR SSK stamps could get them if they are lucky enough to live in the right area!

UPDATE 17 December - Press release from the Postal Museum.

On Friday 1 January 2021, The Postal Museum will reopen both Post & Go machines with stamps 1st and 2nd class Machins.

Both kiosks will be located at The Postal Museum’s Welcome Space and no admission ticket will be required to access the services. You will not be able to access any other areas of the building on this day.

Additional safety measures have been introduced such as a hand sanitizer station, a one-in-one-out access and information on how to scan the NHS Test and Trace QR code located near the machines.

The machines will vend the Machin stamps of all values with no new overprint but will have the new 2021 price updates and year code. These stamps will not be available to purchase online and nor will we be able to offer delivery to anyone who cannot attend on the day.

Both Post & Go machines are available at The Postal Museum from 10am until 4pm on Friday 1 January only

And as expected following the 19 December announcement by the Prime Minister that London is now in Tier 4, the Postal Museum will not open on 1 January.

 

More analysis later, but meanwhile you can download the new rate leaflet here.


 




50 comments:

  1. I really wish they would issue make up values between the basic letter rates and large letter rates. I can’t help feeling more of those would be used than the airmail ones.

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  2. The £2.55 from 2017 was printed by De La Rue, the new printing will be by Walsall. So this should qualify the stamp as a non-visible change for those with regular orders.

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  3. Another 9p profit on all the millions of counterfeits on eBay and Amazon etc ,and another 9p profit lost on all the millions of unfranked . I think we need a good expose in the Sunday Times or similar and reveal just what sort of business this is . Although from Town Halls to NHS ........its all just as rotten.

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    1. The price of regums on eBay has already spiked the full 9p judging by a casual browse around this evening. The volumes of those has apparently increased even more in the last few months, too.

      Never did hear back from Revenue Protection on multiple real-life names that I had for one particular case running into tens of thousands of pounds...

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  4. I gave up collecting modern commemoratives as the prices were getting ridiculous. I am still collecting Machins, but even this is going to cost me £11.70 for 4 new stamps. On the plus side, you know what you are going to have to buy each year, tariff changes aside.

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  5. What happen to the £2.97/£3 rate has it gone or is it still around, did the £3 stamp get reprinted with a 2020 date on it.

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  6. Thanks for the update, Ian.

    As usual some of the most significant increases for eBay sellers requiring a tracking number have flown under the radar of the press - i.e. yet another 10p hike in the premium for UK letters (£1.40 premium vs. £1 for parcels) and a ~10% increase for international parcels up to 1kg.

    2nd class is still the way to go: no problem with those prices and the 1p stamp dodge on 750g UK large letters now saving a small fortune (recipient sticks £1.50 in old shrapnel on the card that the RM spend time processing vs. £2.70 if paid up front).

    For international, the 1.75kg weight band has vanished through accident or design so, for example, anyone sending a 1.5kg T&S parcel to the US might as well throw in a 500g freebie for the extra 50p that costs to send...

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  7. Well, you know how I feel! So many little moments of joy are brought by letters and postcards.

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  8. Would be cheaper for collectors if there were more 2nd class commemorative stamps rather than so many 1st class ones.

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  9. If your not in a rush there's a saving to be had at £1.55 for 100g outside Europe using International Economy rate?

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  10. A business that is an inefficient letter business that subsidises its inefficient Parcels business where it does have competition , from costs on its monopoly business (letters) . It is called creative accounting where you adjust costs to suit your argument. You can also do this with you overseas business where you adjust cost to them for overseas delivery , thereby making them very profitable . Your UK arm then suffers but you can use this to get sympathy on UK costs.
    Over managed . Over maned.

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    1. Don't forget a significant proportion of international prices is paid to the receiving country for local delivery, that's why the USA is more expensive than the rest of the world in many cases.

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    2. I know my tracked RM products in many European Countries are delivered by GLS in place of the 'receiving country'/ local historic postal service , so thereby keeping profits in house . GLS is represented in North America but I only have tracking for the national postal service there . As long as GLS don't start operating in the UK RM staff will be safe , but RM would make a fortune using the GLS business model.

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  11. Time RM reduced a stamp issue to 6 stamps, instead of the obligatory 10 & MS. If they continue on this path, more collectors will abandon ship.

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    1. "Royal Mail’s stamp prices are among the best value in Europe compared to other postal operators."

      This (nonsensical) line is invariably trotted out to justify price increases. Yet what price does Ireland's AnPost charge to deliver a letter posted in Edinburgh to an address in Norwich? Or, equally pointlessly, what price is Royal Mail delivery, Bonn to Hannover?

      Maybe Royal Mail shouldn't be quite so proud of the "decision not to call upon the Government’s furlough scheme (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) throughout the pandemic" if paying too many people to do too little work for too long is a major contributing factor in so steep a price increase.

      And, unlike last time, no (implied) suggestion that when normality resules, a corresponding price drop might be on the cards.

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    2. I'm not sure I follow your reasoning, Barry, and you certainly seem to be at the extreme end of the comments.

      1. Royal Mail's comparison with Europe reflects the cost of INLAND letters. Either I've totally misunderstood you, or your Bonn - Hannover or An Post's delivery are irrelevant and nonsense because neither happens.

      2. I would think that few of Royal Mail's employees were actually not working this year. While some office workers may have been, and others would have been working from home, the vast majority would have been pounding the streets, as I suspect you well know.

      3. I can't recall when there was an actual or implied suggestion that prices might drop after a crisis - please remind me.

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  12. 1.Sort out your franking system (3 out of 7 cards arrived today had no mark whatsoever). 2. Stop putting Miniature Sheets in presentation packs ( you are forcing customers to partially buy a product they don't want to get a pack, I loathe them as never see on any post).3.You only need 4 stamps in a set 1st, 2nd, Europe and World, then only issue 6 a year including Christmas. 4.Actually get the Post Office to SELL stamps not just slap a BIG UGLY HORIZON LABEL on envelopes, as that tells us we don't really need stamps. Royal Mail need to send out orders in 1 or 2 envelopes not 4 or 5, my last order 8 items came over 3 days and 4 envelopes.

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    1. I'm no apologist for Royal Mail (as regular readers will know). I entirely agree with your first point: they need a twin-pronged approach to losses, preventing reuse by properly cancelling all the stamps, and clamping down on forgeries of which more new ones seem to appear every couple of weeks (I've been told about a totally new one today).

      2. Presentation Packs are a pointless product altogether in my view - see my 2014 comment: https://blog.norphil.co.uk/2014/05/presentation-packs-new-catalogue.html

      3. I agree; more 2nd class is essential now. Sets of 8, in those four values would be more economical for Royal Mail to process, but what we don't need is for new issue sets to include the two Large Letter stamps now included in the P&G pack.

      4. For POs to sell stamps Royal Mail would have to pay them more to do so; currently the postmasters get more for labels than stamps, because RM pay POL less for stamps. (No actual details available.)

      (5.) Royal Mail - as do Amazon - send goods as available to streamline the process and free space in the warehouse. We get our stocks much earlier but on a complex issues some products are received by them and distributed to us 2-3 weeks after the first.

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  13. Under the new pricing structure how much will an "E" stamp be worth, a Europe upto 40g and a Worldwide upto 40g?

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    1. 1.70 & 2.55 ?

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    2. Yes, I'm sorry; my reply was posted before complete!

      The full answer is £1.70, £1.70 and £2.55.
      The 60g stamps also have the same values as above.

      Delete
  14. Confirmation received via email that the Postal Museum will be open on 01/01/2021, unless London is put in Tier 3, when it will close.

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  15. One useful thing that hasn't been commented on. Almost all overseas letters will now be paid for exactly using two first class stamps - no trip to the P.O. needed! Of course, we philatelists will be brightening up our envelopes with our stock of commemoratives bought cheaply many years ago...
    Ian, county Durham

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    1. Congratulations, Ian. That's the sort of thing I usually look out for, but hadn't as yet got around to checking how we could be creative. It doesn't look as if I shall be selling off much in the way of old NVI stock any time soon, then!

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    2. Something else that has not been commented on is that the rise of a stamp for foreign post to £1:70 means that there are now only three types of country definitives; or 12 altogether instead of 16; so fewer to collect, or use in my case. Do we think it likely that we shall see the former £1:42 -style designs again? Perhaps we might, were the stamp prices to rise further in April. If they do appear they will be a rarity as few postmasters or postmistresses seem to know what you want if you ask for 'English Second-Class stamps,' & if they do they tell you to seek them in 'the main post office in town.' Even where they do have country definitives it is usually only the two airmail ones that they have - once you have pointed out that they are the lick-and-stick types. When the monarch changes they will probably discontinue country definitives so the new ones on 23rd December may be the last set.

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  16. So the first commemorative issue of 2021 is National Parks on 14/01/2020. Normal items, though thankfully no MS, but a £5.10 Booklet (UB440). Information from RM Advice note.

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    1. Booklet of 6 x 1st (at 85p each); you should perhaps add this comment to the 2021 programme post?

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  17. I have received an Order Advice Note from Tallents House. Issue Date 14/1/21. NVC £2.55 Walsall.
    Does that include 45p p&p I thought so £2.10 ? Thank you for the information Robert and Ian.

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    1. You will appreciate that I get my supplies from a different part of Tallents House so I can't see what you see. But the stamp is £2.55 as shown. They MAY have decided not to charge a shipping fee for just this one stamp in an act of goodwill. But if you have the stamps referred to by Chris as well, I suspect the charge would be there as usual.

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  18. Thank you Ian. The September Stocklist doesn't list the £2.55 stamp, neither is there a mention of a £2.10, is it a re-issue rather than a NVC ? Could the colour have changed ? Was the original DLR £2.55 stamp issued with the £1.17, £1.40, £1.57, and £2.27 ? These are not in the Stocklist either.
    I have a note of these stamps hoping that eventually any NVCs will have SBP2. And then there is a NVC/SBP of the £1.50 value which you advised not to expect. I have crossed it off the list. Many thanks for all the information you provide.

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  19. Thank you for your kind words, but I'm not sure how I could have made it any clearer, apart from including what Robert added on 1 December, which I should have added into the original before now (sorry):

    "The £2.55 Garnet Red stamp first issued on 21 March 2017 will also be reprinted but as it is not a new issue* it will not be on Royal Mail first day covers. However being reprinted it will obviously have a new year code of either M20L or M21L*"

    None of the 2017-issued stamps will be in the Stocklist. Originally issued in 2017 they would have been taken offsale on the 2-year anniversary as happens to ALL tariff stamps unless they are kept on for further use, as with the purple £2.25. As far as Royal Mail is concerned it is a reprint, but because it is in the same colour the only reason it is now being distributed by them on 14 January is because it is a new printer, hence NVC (Non-visible change).

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  20. Having visited my local Post Office, I was shown the new stamps for next week. They have received the £2.55 2020 printing, and this will go on sale on 23/12/2020 along with the other stamps. So RM delay in sending out £2.55 stamp to collectors is rather surprising.

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    1. The printing date may be the clue, and I don't know what that is yet. If the £2.55 was not reprinted until much later than the other values were printed, which was 1 October, then TH would have wanted to clear the three new ones as quickly as possible - at least get them packeted for delivery.

      Not only that, but not everybody will receive all four. Those who don't have non-visible changes in their standing order will only have the three, so that would be another reason for dealing with them separately and treating them as special and they will be distributed with the 14 January special issue.

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  21. Amazing that RM Edinburgh told you that they were M20L and yet they turn out to be M21L !

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    1. Very curious. I always thought that the year code reflected the year of printing, but now we have stamps to be issued in 2020 with a year code for 2021!

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  22. The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. It's been like that for a number of years and getting worse. Management at RM are clueless about philatelic matters. They send out RM Press Releases, just like the Post & Go update re overprints and yet when one makes an enquiry with Stamps and Collectibles they deny having anything to do with Post & Go and refer you to the Post Office as RM have no machines. I was told the machines in the various museums were run by the Post Office.

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  23. I can confirm that the new version of the £2.55 stamp that I have seen was printed by Walsall on SBP2i backing paper with a printing date of the 01/10/20. This was seen is a local office but was not on sale.

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  24. Curiously, the £2.55 stamp, although ostensibly printed the same day, does show M20L in the iridescent overprint, unlike the other three!

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  25. The £2.55 is confirmed as M20L - see eBay item #264982546796 for close-up.

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  26. An ebay listing (item 264982535575) shows the £2.55 as M20L, not M21L.

    John

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  27. Postal Museum 1st Jan opening now cancelled, email just received

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  28. Just to avoid confusion, the legend to the four Machin sheet images should read 'printed 01/10/20' (i.e. October, not November)

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    1. Thanks, Robert. Once an error, always an error - copy & paste I'm afraid.

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  29. I am told by London SHC that on instructions from Tallents House that the 1st Day of issue of the £2.55 stamp is 1st January 2021. Any on covers with the new 3 defins will not ne pmked

    John Embrey

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    1. They MAY mean, not with the FDoI postmarks; Windsor permanent MIGHT be OK.

      I shall test it and send one cover off for the Windsor permanent for 23rd; ask them to phone me if there is a problem, and then get them to do split dates with FDoI and Windsor permanent. I've already processed 5 covers locally with all five stamps on.

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  30. Just tried to order the £2.55 from Royal Mail paying full postage, but she said it wouldn't be delivered until the 14th Jan 2021. I have nothing else arriving on the 14th Jan.

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    1. Yes, that's the distribution date for the £2.55 and the first special issue.

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  31. Guys, Please stop moaning ! Lets see some POSITIVE comments for a change - it's all doom and gloom! With the Coronavirus problems we need some positive, happy and up-beat remarks !

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  32. I got my £1.70 England stamps as soon as my local post office had them.
    No magenta hairs on mine (full sheet) :(

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