Mail carriers prepare for holiday rush

Haley Gustafson | Daily Press Kristine Imhoff, supervisor at the Escanaba United States Postal Service (USPS) office showcases the box that people can mail letters to Santa Claus.

ESCANABA — With Christmas right around the corner, the holiday shopping season is in full force. To get gifts to out-of-town friends or family, residents will be depending on mail carriers to make sure their cards and packages reach their destinations before the Christmas holiday.

According to Sabrina Todd, strategic communications for the United States Postal Service (USPS), the amount of mail that is delivered during the holiday season is increased drastically starting the day after Thanksgiving.

During this year’s holiday season, USPS is anticipating a 10 percent increase in package volume with more than 850 million packages as compared to 750 million in 2016.

Because of this heavy influx in holiday mail, the USPS started to deliver packages on Sunday to help alleviate the extra mail. This was added to the USPS delivery routes about two years ago.

Cyber Monday, the online shopping version of Black Friday, also causes an increase in the amount of packages that are mailed out, noted Todd.

The busiest time for USPS is the week leading up to the Christmas holiday, as people try to get last minute cards and packages to family and friends.

“We’re looking at the week of Dec. 18 through Dec. 24 as our busiest mailing, shipping and delivering time,” said Todd.

Nationally, between Thanksgiving and New Years, about 15 billion cards and packages will be delivered said Todd.

In order to ensure that a package makes it to its destination on time, Todd said people should make sure that whatever they are mailing is put together correctly.

“We suggest that the package is packaged properly,” said Todd.

For example, if the gift is fragile, Todd noted that people should wrap the present in bubble wrap or stuff the box with a significant amount of foam packing peanuts to make sure that the item inside does not break while en route to its destination.

In addition, Todd suggests that residents place a piece of paper or card inside of the package’s box that has the address of where it is heading on it just in case the package becomes open or damaged during transport. That way, the mail carriers still have an address and can make sure that the gift or card gets there on time, added Todd.

Securing the package with packaging tape, and not masking tape, is also a tip to remember, explained Todd, as packaging tape can hold up better. The use of a sturdy box for gifts to be placed in is also vital, added Todd.

The way a person writes on a package or card can also help a mail carrier get the gift to its place on time, noted Todd. She suggests that residents print their addresses and name of recipient legibly and in print instead of cursive writing.

If the gift giver doesn’t know the zip code of where it is heading, Todd said to leave that part off instead of guessing, because when service workers at the Post Office type in the information of where the package is heading, the zip code will typically appear along with the address when the label for the parcel is printed.

In the event of a winter storm or heavy snowfall, Todd said USPS workers appreciate and ask that residents clear or shovel their walkways leading up to their houses to ensure the safety of the mail carrier.

Poster Master at the Escanaba Postal Service Office, Kevin Loomis, said their busy season started right after Thanksgiving on Sunday, Nov. 26.

“It’s been non-stop ever since,” said Loomis.

Loomis explained he has a staff of six clerks working behind the desk, helping customers. Twenty-nine rural and city carriers to deliver packages and cards to homes.

In the off-season, Loomis said the Escanaba office will typically receive four or five pallets of mail per day. During holiday mailing time, the number of pallets doubles.

Not only do the number of pallets increase, but the amount of customers visiting the post office also picks-up dramatically, noted Loomis.

To help speed the line up and lessen wait times, Loomis suggested that customers should have their parcels or cards ready to go when they come to the office. Residents can get average shipping costs and other tips at the USPS website, www.usps.com.

Certain send-by dates should also be followed if residents want to make sure their packages get to their destinations by Dec. 25.

For USPS Retail Ground, send by Dec. 14; First-Class Mail, Dec. 19; Priority Mail, Dec. 20 and Priority Mail Express, Dec. 22.

Letters to Santa can also be delivered at the Escanaba location of USPS, said Loomis. A box specifically for those letters can be found as customers walk into the office.

Loomis said the Escanaba office saw 150 letters to Santa last year, which all got replies.

For more information about the USPS and all of the services they provide, visit www.usps.com.

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