The U.S. Postal Service is preparing for more gifts to be mailed this year than usual as the COVID-19 pandemic forces many families to spend holidays apart.
The mail season peaks two weeks before Christmas, when last-minute shopping begins, according to the USPS. This year, it’s anticipating increased customer traffic at post offices beginning Dec. 7, with the busiest levels happening in the week of Dec. 14-21.
To handle the increased load, the USPS said it has hired seasonal workers, enhanced its package tracking technology and will expand Sunday delivery in high-volume areas starting Nov. 29. Christmas Day delivery will also be available for an added fee in some locations.
A United States Postal Service mail carrier braves the inclement weather to make deliveries in Andover, MA on Dec. 23, 2017. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
In order to ensure packages get to where they need to be by Christmas, the USPS shared recommended deadlines that it estimated would get items delivered before Dec. 25:
- For Air/Army Post Office, Fleet Post Office and Diplomatic Post Office addresses in the 093 ZIP Code using Priority Mail and First-Class Mail, send items by Dec. 9. For all other APO/FPO/DPO ZIP Codes, send by Dec. 11 with Priority Mail and First-Class Mail.
- For USPS Retail Ground service to domestic addresses, send by Dec. 15.
- For APO/FPO/DPO addresses other than the 093 ZIP Code, send by Dec. 18 with USPS Priority Mail Express.
- Dec. 18 is also the deadline to send to domestic addresses via First-Class Mail and First-Class packages up to 15.99 ounces.
- Dec. 19 is the deadline for Priority Mail service to domestic addresses, while Dec. 23 is the deadline for Priority Mail Express service to domestic addresses.
- For anyone sending items between Alaska and the Continental U.S., the deadlines are Dec. 18 for First-Class Mail, Dec. 19 for Priority Mail and Dec. 21 for Priority Mail Express.
- For items being sent between Hawaii and the Continental U.S., the deadlines are Dec. 15 for Priority Mail and First-Class Mail and Dec. 21 for Priority Mail Express.
The USPS is also suggesting people with items to send use USPS.com services in order to avoid the crowds and ship without leaving home. Postal customers can order free Priority Mail boxes, print shipping labels, purchase postage and request package pickup on the website.
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