(Photo by Scott Welton, Staff)
With six fewer days to handle holiday mail due to a late Thanksgiving, it appears people are trying to make up for lost time.
"We started off pretty busy," said Larry Brown, postmaster for the Sikeston Post Office. "The last four of five days we've really been swamped here."
The Sikeston post office typically handles about 60,000 pieces of mail, Brown estimated. During the month of December, he expects to see the volume increase to around 75,000-80,000 pieces. Nationally, the Postal Service estimates it will deliver a total of about 20 billion letters, packages and other items between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"Monday will probably be our biggest mailing day," Brown predicted, adding the biggest delivery days will follow later in the week. "Thursday and Friday will be big days for us."
Brown has not needed to hire any extra help, but has opened a third window for the holiday mailing season instead of operating with the usual two. "We're using what we got - just working them a little longer hours," Brown said.
As of now, Brown does not have any plans to extend hours or open the post office for an extra day. "If things still pick up, we may extend our window hours," Brown said. "I'll just let the volume dictate that."
Brown recommended preparing packages to help ensure the contents arrive undamaged.
Almost all mail is put on an airplane at some point, he explained, which means the packages go into the hands of airline personnel. "Their people take it and load it up," Brown said. "I've seen them do luggage and they do our packages the same way."
Brown advised filling empty space with bubble wrap or other filler so the package is not crushed if something is placed on top of it.
"Tape it real good and make sure the box is full so it stands up to the pressure," Brown said. "The key to it is to wrap it very well."
He said to also be sure both the address and return address are clearly readable. Brown said on the packages he sent recently, he covered the address with clear tape to protect it from getting wet.
"I'm just hoping that people mail earlier," Brown said, noting he sent his holiday packages off Monday.
He recommended sending anything you want to arrive in time for Christmas by Dec. 20. "I wouldn't wait till the day before to do it," Brown said. If you wait until the Monday before Christmas, Brown said Express Mail is your only USPS option.
Those who don't mind paying a premium price for their procrastination may opt to use UPS's SonicAir, a same-day-pick-up-and-delivery service starting at $169 for packages under 25 pounds.
UPS expects to add about 60,000 holiday workers nationally as package sorters and assistants to truck drivers to handle their holiday rush of packages.
On its peak delivery day Thursday, UPS expects to drop off more than 18 million packages as compared with its usual average of 13.6 million packages a day and FedEx is looking to see its usual 3 million overnight delivery service packages increase to more than 5 million.
Some information for this story was supplied by the Associated Press.