This Christmas shopping season, shipping will be as big a decision-making factor in gift giving than the gift itself.
The holiday rush is challenging enough, add in COVID-19 complications, staffing and a shipping back-up and everything gets even more difficult.
“Postal Service preparations for the higher delivery demands of the 2021 holiday peak season are already in full swing,” said Susan Wright with USPS Corp Communications for the Kentucky area.
“This includes planning for possible effects of the pandemic.”
Wright said that there have been continual efforts to keep areas things staffed for the holidays. Those efforts include a national drive to hire delivery and plant personnel for about 40,000 seasonal hires, leasing 7.5 million square feet of additional space and installing new processing equipment for higher volumes and needs.
“These efforts reflect the Delivering for America plan’s $40 billion investment over the next 10 years,” she said.
Her top tip for those shipping gifts is simply mail early. This is especially true in a holiday season with extra strains on shipping. Waiting until the last minute may not get your gift there in time this year.
When ordering items online, she said customers should look for the United States Postal Service mailing deadlines. That information can be found at New for the Holidays: Prices, Shipping Rates and Dates — Newsroom — About.usps.com.
She said the USPS has also added a Holiday Newsroom to help customers fine more info about shipping, including how to get a North Pole postmark and the USPS Operation Santa program.
The website gives the following estimated shipping deadlines.
Dec. 15 — USPS Retail Ground service
Dec. 16 — APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express Military service
Dec. 17 — First-Class Mail service (including greeting cards)
Dec. 17 — First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)
Dec. 18 — Priority Mail service
Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express service
Other shipping organizations have different deadlines.
As far as post office operating hours, she said retail hours will be expanded in select locations. There is a place online to put in your local zip code to find specific hours. Post offices will be open Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and some locations will have extended hours leading up to the holidays while other will have limited hours on Christmas Eve. All post offices will be closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. And, she said, priority mail express will be delivered.