(Photos by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
Representatives from the local UPS Store as well as the post office said the amount of parcels are beginning to pick up, and it's only going to get busier as the holidays near. They advised getting items shipped early -- although that may cut down on the number of shopping days left until Christmas.
Anticipating for extra business, Keith Renfroe, owner of The UPS Store, has extended store hours through Dec. 22.
"I extended the hours so there hopefully won't be as long of lines," he said.
Renfroe said mornings are typically slower at his store so that may be the optimum time to drop off packages. He also noted that Monday is the biggest shipping day of the week.
And at Sikeston's post office, the middle of the day -- between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. -- is the best time to come in, said Keith Arnold, supervisor. "Lines are getting longer," he said.
According to a news release from the United States Postal Service, nationwide, 20 billion pieces of mail are expected to be delivered between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The busiest mailing day is estimated for Dec. 17 with Dec. 19 as the busiest delivery day.
Renfroe estimated his busiest shipping week would begin Dec. 17, too. Arnold said the final day packages can be shipped from the post office and still make it to someone by Christmas Eve (which falls on a Monday) depends on how it is mailed and where the package is going. But, he said Dec. 20 would probably be the latest day to ensure delivery.
Renfroe advised customers ship items by Dec. 19 at the latest. Those dates don't include places such as military bases.
More business means longer hours for those who deliver the mail. "Carriers are out later delivering the parcels," said Arnold.
To cut down on the time someone spends at the counter, Renfroe and Arnold suggested customers come in with their packages addressed and sealed.
"That way we can weigh it and get the postage and send it out for them," Renfroe said.
For those who don't have the best package to ship their gifts in, boxes and envelopes, as well as tape, packing peanuts and other mailing supplies are available at both locations.
"They can purchase it all right here," said Arnold. He noted that if a customer ships something through priority mail, those boxes are provided at no extra charge.
At The UPS Store, there are even some boxes and envelopes with holiday decorations, Renfroe noted. There are all sizes -- and he has shipped large items such as grandfather clocks and toys, as well as delicate items.
When shipping fragile items, Renfroe said a customer needs to be comfortable with the packing before it is shipped. "I often ask 'are you comfortable if I drop it from here?'" he said, standing behind the counter. If someone isn't, they need more packing.
He keeps plenty of packing supplies on hand. And right now, he's got even more in stock and ready to sell. Renfroe said he also tripled the amount of stock he usually has, while Arnold says the post office goes through about 30 percent more supplies.
Renfroe has increased staff hours and keeps as much stock on the floor as possible.
"That way I can wait on the customer and we're fully prepared stock-wise," he said. "I want to concentrate on customer service and getting people in and out."