Will your package reach its destination in time for Christmas? That’s up in the air

The United States Postal Service experiencing nationwide temporary delays; recommends sending packages early

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Christmas is just over a week away, and with the coronavirus pandemic, the United States Postal Service is getting extremely high volumes of packages. The question is, will they reach their destinations in time for the holiday? The answer to that could be up in the air.

According to the Postal Service, the week from Dec. 14 through Dec. 21 is the busiest peak time for shipping and delivering packages. A time-lapse at the post office’s Spring Park location offers a sense of the foot traffic moving at a fast pace. All of this means a heavy load for the postal service. That’s why Gabe Turner isn’t planning to mail any packages for the holidays.

“Just doing things kind of like the old-fashioned way,” Turner said. “Not sending a lot of things because they’re not getting there on time.”

Who could blame him? The postal service says temporary delays are happening nationwide, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With that, people are shopping online a lot more these days. Adobe Analytics says for November and December, online sales are expected to reach $189 billion. That’s a 33% jump from the same time frame last year.

Something else is adding to the growing problem. According to the Washington Post, private carriers like FedEx and UPS have cut off delivery service for some retailers. As a result, more packages are ending up at the post office. That’s why you’re advised not to wait until the last minute to send packages to loved ones.

To make sure your packages are received by Dec. 25, the postal service recommends abiding by the following deadlines.

  • Dec. 18 as the deadline for First-Class Mail service, including greeting cards and first-class packages up to 15.99 ounces.
  • Dec. 19 is the last day for Priority Mail Service.
  • Dec. 23 is the recommended deadline for Priority Mail Express* service.

There is a caveat. The postal service says those recommendations are not guarantees, and several factors could come into play. That’s why people are still advised to send their packages as early as possible.

In a statement, Chief Retail and Delivery Officer of the Postal Service, Kristin Seaver said in part:

“We continue to flex our network including making sure the right equipment is available to sort, process, and deliver a historic volume of mail and packages this holiday season.”

The USPS also said with its Priority Mail Express shipments mailed between Dec. 22 and Dec. 25, the money-back guarantee will only go through if the shipment was not delivered, or delivery was not attempted, within two business days.

The USPS also said in a release seasonal workers are hired when and where needed, and technology has been expanded to enhance package tracking throughout the USPS processing and transportation networks.

Sunday delivery expanded on Nov. 29 to locations with high package volumes. USPS already delivers packages on Sundays in most major cities. Mail carriers will also deliver packages for an additional fee on Christmas Day in select locations. To see the full release, click here.

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