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World's postal services struggle with lower demand; countries plan to cut or sell services

  • 9a01be2ae2a996062a0f6a7067009563.jpg

    In this photo taken Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, postman John Lahmert delivers mail in rural Otaki, New Zealand. New Zealand is considering cutting letter deliveries from six days a week to three as global demand for postal services dwindles. (AP Photo/Nick Perry) (The Associated Press)

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    In this photo taken Friday, Feb. 15. 2013, postman John Lahmert loads his truck with mail in Otaki, New Zealand. New Zealand is considering cutting letter deliveries from six days a week to three as global demand for postal services dwindles. (AP Photo/Nick Perry) (The Associated Press)

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    In this photo taken Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, Sandra Vidulich is thrilled about her new leather boots delivered by postman John Lahmert in rural Otaki, New Zealand. New Zealand is considering cutting letter deliveries from six days a week to three as global demand for postal services dwindles. (AP Photo/Nick Perry) (The Associated Press)

  • f5cf68aee2ac96062a0f6a7067002735.jpg

    In this photo taken on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, semi-retired farmer Barry Georgeson collects his mail from postman John Lahmert in rural Otaki, New Zealand. New Zealand is considering cutting letter deliveries from six days a week to three as global demand for postal services dwindles. (AP Photo/Nick Perry) (The Associated Press)

  • 31618b7be2ad96062a0f6a706700bfc8.jpg

    In this photo taken Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, postman John Lahmert greets a customer from his delivery truck, in rural Otaki, New Zealand. New Zealand is considering cutting letter deliveries from six days a week to three as global demand for postal services dwindles. (AP Photo/Nick Perry) (The Associated Press)

The core letter business of many postal services around the world is in precipitous decline.

While a boom in Internet shopping has helped increase parcel deliveries, data from a number of countries indicates this alone won't be enough to save them. The once-proud postal services that helped build modern society are scaling back operations, risking further declines.

The United Kingdom is preparing to wash its hands of mail deliveries entirely by selling the Royal Mail, which traces its roots back nearly 500 years to the reign of King Henry VIII.

The U.S. Postal Service sparked uproar this month when it announced plans to stop delivering letters on Saturdays. And New Zealand is considering more drastic cuts: three days of deliveries per week instead of six.