With the Christmas holiday fast approaching, the United States Postal Service has released shipping deadlines for those sending gifts across the country as well as closer to home. The USPS is cautioning customers that not only should shoppers order online gifts as soon as possible, but that they should also ship said packages as quickly as possible.
This admonition comes just a month or two after the USPS announced that it would be slowing down the delivery of regular mail due to financial issues, particularly in rural areas of America.
On Friday, the USPS released a guide regarding shipping deadlines for the 2021 holiday season. In 2020, the organization delivered 13 billion letters, cards and packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
The Postal Service is expecting a similar amount of holiday mail and packages for the 2021 holiday season; the agency projects 12 billion packages will be delivered in the next month.
The USPS guidance offered the following reminder for holiday shippers: “The busiest time of the year begins two weeks before Christmas; it’s expected that customer traffic at all Post Office locations will steadily increase beginning the week of December 6.”
However, the busiest week for shipping, mailing, and delivery is the week of December 13 – 18, which is the week prior to Christmas. The USPS spokesperson mentioned that the postal service expects up to 2.3 billion pieces of first-class mail – which includes letters, Christmas cards and packages – will be processed and delivered that same week.
The USPS reminded customers that the delivery window for packages shipped inside the contiguous United States is typically between seven and ten business days when using regular mail – of course, that does not include Saturday or Sunday, even though the postal service delivers on Saturdays. When customers choose Priority Mail Express, the window for delivery is two business days.
In some select areas, the USPS will delivery holiday packages on Christmas Day for a nominal fee. However, customers will have to inquire at their local post office regarding this option.
For shipping within the United States, should customers wish to mail a gift that will reach the recipient by December 25, the USPS offers a list of deadlines one should follow:
- By December 9 – all first-class mail as well as APO/FPO/DPO Priority Mail (this includes Air/Army Post/Fleet Post/Diplomatic Post offices)
- By December 15 – USPS Retail Ground
- By December 16 – APO/FPO/DPO USPS Priority Mail EXPRESS MILITARY (excluding Zip Code 093)
- By December 17 – All first-class mail (for example, holiday cards)
- By December 18 – All Priority packages and mail
- By December 23 – All Priority Mail Express
With the supply chain still moving rather slowly, holiday shoppers are encouraged to order packages as soon as possible; those who plan to ship said packages via the USPS should adhere to these deadlines. Remember to buy early and ship early when possible.