As the Christmas rush comes to an end, Borderers are being urged to continue to use their local post offices and to spend money in the shops hosting them.
There are around 50 post offices in the Scottish Borders, the majority of which are run on a franchise basis within an existing store. Postmasters get paid a set amount per transaction by the Post Office. While the fee per transaction varies across the UK, the income generated by hosting a post office can be less than £2,000 per year in rural areas.
When you factor in the cost of ensuring the post office counter is staffed, this can mean that postmasters rely on the increased footfall a post office can generate in order to make the arrangement financially sustainable.
Now local politicians John Lamont MP and Councillor John Greenwell are urging Borderers to make sure they continue to use their local post offices and do a quick shop at the same time. Unless people use their local post office, there is a real risk that more will close in the Scottish Borders.
Across the UK, the total number of post offices has fallen by 500 in the last ten years, with the closures happening in primarily rural areas.
John Lamont MP said: “Post offices in the Borders have been busy with Christmas post these past few weeks, but in order to survive, they need to be busy all year.
“Not everyone appreciates that postmasters only get paid for each transaction they carry out, so they need customers for it to be worth having staff on the counter. And the fees are so low that often postmasters have to rely on customers coming through the door also spending money in their own shop.
“We are all incredibly grateful to have a local post office at this time of year but unless they are used all year round, they simply cannot survive. It really is a case of use them or lose them.”
Councillor John Greenwell added: “Post offices, particularly in rural areas like the Borders offer vital services and their loss can be a big blow to a community.
“But it’s important to remember that they are businesses and the best way to keep your local post office is to use them as often as you can.
“The post office offers all sorts of useful services, from bank withdrawals, to checking passport forms, to financial services. It’s important for communities who want to retain their local postal services, to make the effort to go in once in a while, and even better to pick up some shopping while you are there!”