The Postal Service has many financial woes, but the health of its package delivery service is not one of them.
As the agency struggles to pay for retiree health benefits and adjust to a world where people mail fewer letters each year, an otherwise dismal balance sheet has a bright spot: it is delivering more and more packages, a reflection of the boom in e-commerce.
The Postal Service has described its package business as a source of financial growth, but President Trump wants more. He issued an executive order late Thursday creating a task force to “conduct a thorough evaluation” of the Postal Service’s operations and finances, including the “expansion and pricing of the package delivery market.”
In repeated jabs on Twitter, Mr. Trump has accused Amazon, the e-commerce giant that is the Postal Service’s largest single shipper of packages, of being a drain on the 242-year-old agency.
But on a single day in December — Monday, Dec. 18 — the post office delivered more than 37 million packages, a record.
During the quarter that includes the 2017 holiday season — historically the Postal Service’s strongest period of the year — revenue from first-class mail slid by 4.4 percent from the same period a year earlier. Total mail volume, which has been slipping for years, depressed in part by email, was down by 2 billion pieces, or 5 percent.
In the same period, shipping and packages pulled in 9.3 percent more revenue. Volume increased by 111 million pieces, or 7 percent. (UPS, meanwhile, delivered 5.7 percent more packages in the holiday quarter, and FedEx’s ground delivery grew by 6 percent.)
Still, the Postal Service suffered a net loss of $540 million for the quarter, compared with a $1.4 billion profit a year earlier.
“Although we continue to win customers and grow our package business, these gains are not sufficient to offset continuing declines in our mail business, which is our main source of revenue and contribution,” said Megan J. Brennan, the postmaster general, in a statement in February.