USPS issues holiday package guidance: Send gifts early

U.S. Postal Service customers wait in line to mail Christmas presents at a U.S. Post Office December 20, 2004 in Washington, DC. The Monday before Christmas is the busiest day of the year for the U.S. Postal Service. The card and letter volume triple

The U.S. Postal Service wants holiday shoppers to know that they should order and mail their packages ASAP.

This guidance comes directly from a news release issued by the USPS on Friday, which reportedly delivered 13 billion letters, cards and packages during the 2020 holiday season.

The USPS anticipates a similar delivery surge between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day with an estimated 12 billion packages projected for the current holiday season.

"The busiest time of the year begins two weeks before Christmas," the USPS wrote in its release. "It's expected that customer traffic at all Post Office locations will steadily increase beginning the week of Dec. 6."

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"The week of Dec. 13-18 is anticipated to be the busiest mailing, shipping and delivery week," the release continued. "Additionally, the Postal Service predicts that nearly 2.3 billion pieces of First-Class Mail, including greeting cards and packages, will be processed and delivered the week of Dec. 13."

Delivery windows for packages shipped in the U.S. are between seven and 10 business days for regular mail and two business days for Priority Mail Express. Select USPS locations will deliver holiday packages on Christmas Day for an added fee

If you’re looking to send a gift that reaches someone on Dec. 25, the USPS provided a breakdown of key dates that should be looked at as holiday shipping deadlines – which includes domestic and Air/Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office/Diplomatic Post Office (APO/FPO/DPO) addresses.

  • Dec. 9: APO/FPO/DPO Priority Mail and First-Class Mail (all ZIP Codes)
  • Dec. 15: USPS Retail Ground
  • Dec. 16: APO/FPO/DPO USPS Priority Mail Express Military (except ZIP Code 093)
  • Dec. 17: First-Class Mail (including greeting cards)
  • Dec. 17:  First-Class Packages (up to 15.99 ounces)
  • Dec. 18: Priority Mail
  • Dec. 23: Priority Mail Express

Alaska to and from Continental U.S.

  • Dec. 18: First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 18: Priority Mail
  • Dec. 21: Priority Mail Express

Hawaii to and from mainland

  • Dec. 17: Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 21: Priority Mail Express

In order to keep up with holiday shipping demands, the USPS is hiring more than 40,000 seasonal workers, has installed 92 of 112 new package sorting machines and will expand delivery service in high-volume areas starting on Nov. 28.

Many of these holiday operations are highlighted in the USPS’s "Delivering for America" plan – a $40 billion planned investment that’s being made over 10 years.

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