The U.S. Postal Service is gearing up for the busy holiday delivery season and this year will see a few changes, including temporary rate increases.
The 2020 holiday season was a record-setting year for the Postal Service. Specifically, more than 13 billion letters, cards and packages were processed and delivered under some of the most difficult circumstances faced in the past century.
For the 2021 peak season — the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day — the Postal Service will deliver more mail and packages to homes than any other shipper. It’s anticipated that between 850 million and 950 million packages will be delivered for the holidays. The total number of letters, cards and packages processed and delivered is estimated to be more than 12 billion.
In an effort to keep the Postal Service competitive while providing the agency with the revenue to cover extra costs in anticipation of peak-season volume surges similar to levels experienced in 2020, there will be temporary price increases in place through Dec. 26 on all retail and commercial domestic competitive parcels for some of the more-popular shipping products, which also includes military shipping — Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, First-Class Package Service, Parcel Select, USPS Retail Ground and Parcel Return Service. International products are unaffected.
A zone-pricing calculator can be found online at: https://postcalc.usps.com/DomesticZoneChart
In anticipation of the busy season, the Postal Service will also expand Sunday delivery, beginning Nov. 28, to locations with high package volumes. USPS already delivers packages on Sundays in most major cities and expects to deliver more than 9.7 million packages each Sunday throughout the holiday season. Mail carriers will also deliver packages for an additional fee on Christmas Day in select locations.
This year’s preparations also include leasing 7.5 million square feet of additional space across more than 40 annexes to handle the increase in the number of packages being mailed. The Postal Service is currently hiring for more than 40,000 seasonal positions to help process and deliver the mail.
Since April, the Postal Service has installed 92 of 112 new package sorting machines, reflecting the “Delivering for America” plan’s $40 billion of planned investment over 10 years. Additionally, more than 50 machines that can sort large packages are expected to be up and running prior to December. The new machinery gives the Postal Service the capacity to process an additional 4.5 million packages each day.
The busiest time of the year for the Postal Service begins two weeks before Christmas. It’s expected that customer traffic at all Post Office locations will steadily increase beginning the week of Dec. 6. The week of Dec. 13-18 is anticipated to be the busiest mailing, shipping and delivery week. 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.
In order for packages to be delivered by Christmas Day, the Postal Service recommends the following mailing deadlines:
· Dec. 9 — APO/FPO/DPO (all ZIP Codes) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
· Dec. 15 — USPS Retail Ground service
· Dec. 16 — APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express Military
· Dec. 17 — First-Class Mail service (including greeting cards)
· Dec. 17 — First-Class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)
· Dec. 18 — Priority Mail service
· Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express* service
Alaska to/from Continental U.S.
· Dec. 18 — First-Class Mail
· Dec. 18 — Priority Mail
· Dec. 21 — Priority Mail Express
Hawaii to/from mainland
· Dec. 17 — Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
· Dec. 21 — Priority Mail Express
Consumers don’t have to leave home to ship their packages. They can visit usps.com for available at-home shipping options.
More tips for a successful holiday mailing and shipping season:
· Use free Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes. They are available at Post Office locations or online at usps.com/freeboxes.
· Schedule a free Package Pickup when the carrier delivers your mail. It’s free regardless of the number of packages. Pickups can be scheduled at usps.com/pickup.
· Mail and packages that weigh more than 10 ounces or are more than a half-inch thick and using stamps as postage cannot be dropped into a collection box or left for a carrier to pick up. Instead, take them to a local Post Office.