With pandemic, postal workers prepare for historic shipping season ahead of Christmas

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With less than two weeks before Christmas, the United States Post Office is set to make history. 

In the midst of the biggest digital retail season ever, millions and millions of packages are filtering through the system right now. 

Online retailers warn of shipping delays, and a red alert at the top of the USPS website says it all. “USPS is experiencing unprecedented package increases and limited employee availability due to the impacts of COVID 19.”

The message urges patience because an already busy shipping season is about to turn historic.

“This is unprecedented. you’re going to have a lot of folks getting packages sent to their home and normally they’re taking those packages to their loved ones at Christmas, but this year they’re going to send them out through the mail so those packages are getting mailed basically twice,” said Mark Inglett, a communications strategist for the Post Office. 

Holiday shoppers like Amber Harris-Taber used a kiosk inside the post office and shipped early enough to ensure her packages will arrive on time.

 “It’s really just to manage levels so I know it’s off my checklist and I can be done and I know that I’ve shipped it,” Harris-Taber said.

In the next week, the post office will shatter records for the enormous number of packages that carriers will deliver.

Right now, Tuesday, December 15, is predicted to be the busiest day for shipping ever. Officials at the post office anticipated the increase months in advance and prepared accordingly.

“We started planning early. We brought on seasonal help and trained them well ahead of time and arranged for extra transportation because we knew it was going to be high volume,” Inglett said. “We were right.”

Boxes are stacked high inside post office’s around America. A lot of people are hesitant to risk a trip to the neighborhood postal outlets right now. That is why the Click and Ship feature on the post office’s website has become more popular than ever. It allows you to print postage and shipping labels from home and even schedule a time for a carrier to pick up packages at your door.

To speed things up, you could also use the printed priority packaging available at the post office. But with shipping at historic levels, the best advice is to get your packages in the mail right now. 

Deadlines for shipping from USPS indicate December 18 as the last day to mail Christmas Cards and small first-class packages. December 19 is the last day to ship Priority Mail Service, and December 23 is the expensive deadline for overnight Priority Mail Express.

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