If you have ever waited about a week for a package to arrive from a retailer where you made a purchase, it is highly likely to travel via USPS Retail Ground.
But what is USPS Retail Ground, and what does it offer to Postal Service customers? Keep reading below for your answer!
What Is USPS Retail Ground In 2023?
USPS Retail Ground is an affordable and slower ground shipping option, with a window of two to eight days as of 2023. Retail Ground uses zoned pricing, calculated based on weight, and can ship parcels up to 70 pounds. The service can also accommodate unusually shaped items, like tubes, with a host of price variations for oversized items.
To learn more about how USPS Retail Ground works (including why you might end up using it), how expensive it is, how it compares to Parcel Select, and whether it comes with insurance, read on for all you need to know!
How Does USPS Retail Ground Work?
USPS Retail Ground is the shipping service that might work best if you:
- Have an item that weighs over one pound, disqualifying it from First Class Package
- Don’t want to spend the money on Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express
- Have an item that won’t fit into any of the Flat Rate boxes
- Aren’t in a hurry to get the package to its destination
- Aren’t qualified to use Parcel Select
Also, many small businesses, particularly those with a strong e-commerce presence, tend to use Retail Ground because it’s affordable and versatile.
Also, the service comes with free tracking so that you can follow the parcel every step of the journey at no additional cost.
Moreover, it’s important to note that USPS Retail Ground is mainly available for shipping to Zones 5 through 9 (longer distances).
That said, only items that meet specific requirements can ship via this service to Zones 1 through 4.
Further, those are items consisting of the following:
- Hazardous materials
- Live animals
- Items required to be shipped by surface transportation only
How To Purchase
According to USPS.com, Retail Ground postage can only be purchased in Post Office locations and is not available online using the Click-N-Ship function.
However, the plus to going into the Post Office is that if you have questions about the service, you can speak directly to an expert at the service counter.
Most rectangular boxes under one cubic foot have straightforward pricing under Retail Ground.
Still, the pricing is based on the parcel’s weight, then the zone to which it is heading. Remember, zones are relative to each specific zip code.
For example, Seattle will fall under a different zone for someone shipping from Portland versus someone shipping from Bangor, Maine.
Moreover, if an item is more than 108 inches, Oversize Pricing will apply. For non-rectangular parcels, customers must find the dimensional weight (see the formula here).
That said, the cheapest shipment of a rectangular parcel weighing less than one pound, which does not meet the Zone 1-4 requirements, heading to Zone 5 would cost $9.80.
In comparison, the heaviest 70-pound parcel, heading to Zone 9, comes to $152.60.
Is USPS Retail Ground Expensive?
USPS Retail Ground is an affordable ground shipping option, but you get what you pay for because while it costs less than Priority or Priority Express, it’s much slower.
Still, a ten-pound parcel heading to Zone 5 with Priority Mail costs $22.20; that same item under Retail Ground costs $19 even.
Moreover, it really makes a difference for even longer distances; that same parcel under Priority Mail, but heading to Zone 9, would set you back $95.
Under Retail Ground, you’d pay just $38.95. (Find the full list of weighted and zoned prices here.)
How Long Does USPS Retail Ground Take To Deliver?
USPS Retail Ground doesn’t pretend it’s anything like Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express.
Rather, this service is one of the slowest, so it’s for customers who aren’t in a hurry.
That said, the time frame given is two to eight days, but the Postal Service is a well-oiled machine that tends to work faster than expected.
Does USPS Retail Ground Come With Insurance?
USPS Retail Ground does not come with insurance like Priority Mail and Priority Express do.
However, you can add up to $5,000 worth of insurance to Retail Ground by asking the counter associate (or they might ask you first).
Also, remember not to low-ball the value of your goods to get the lower insurance price because if something happens and you have to make a claim, you only receive the estimate.
Is USPS Priority Mail Or Retail Ground Faster?
USPS Priority Mail is definitely faster (and Priority Mail Express faster still), with a service window of two to three days.
However, Retail Ground is quite affordable, especially for longer distances, but yes, it can be very slow, taking the entire eight business days in some cases.
So, while items can reach their destination in as little as two days, if your parcel is time-sensitive, Retail Ground is not the direction you’ll want to go.
Instead, spend the extra money and choose Priority Mail or get some peace of mind with Priority Mail Express, which delivers overnight or within two days, with a money-back guarantee.
What Is The Difference Between USPS Parcel Select And Retail Ground?
USPS Parcel Select and Retail Ground are like half-siblings and have the same shipping speed, two to eight days.
But, the major differences between the two are, first, that Parcel Select is cheaper, and it’s cheaper because, second, it’s available only to select customers.
For example, these customers have accounts with third-party shippers, like Stamps.com or Shippo, and qualify for the discounted rates.
Is USPS Retail Ground Good?
USPS Retail Ground is reliable, quicker than you might expect, affordable, and quite accommodating to weirdly shaped items.
Also, it can certainly save you money if you are shipping something hundreds, even thousands of miles away, compared to some of the other zoned-based services.
To know more, you can also read our posts on what is USPS Regional State, what is USPS Flat Rate, and what is Registered Mail USPS.
USPS Retail Ground is an affordable shipping service for heavier or weirdly shaped parcels with long distances to cover and no urgency to their arrival.
That said, to purchase Retail Ground postage, you must visit your Post Office, as you cannot purchase it online like other shipping services.