Holiday shipping, mail deadlines approaching

Published 4:42pm Saturday, November 17, 2012

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping and shipping, and in order to get your letters, packages and gifts, to their destination on time it is important to be aware of postage deadlines.

The U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver 365 million packages this holiday season, which is a 20 percent increase from last year. And they project that due to the increase in online shopping, nearly 18 billion cards, letters and packages will be delivered between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, worldwide.

“We always tell folks to get everything in the mail as soon as possible,” Darleen Reid, USPS Sr. public relations representative said. “The earlier you mail, the better.”

So to ensure the family Christmas card reaches it’s destination before Christmas, with billions of holiday cards in transit, “probably the most important thing you want to know are the holiday cut off dates,” Reid said.

For domestic mail the last day to send First Class Mail to get it there by the holiday, Reid said, is Dec. 20. Priority Mail, which is the two to three day service, the last day senders should get their packages in the mail is Dec. 21.

“And then for the very, very last minute mailers we offer Express Mail service, which is overnight to most locations, nationwide up until Dec. 22,” Reid said. “You don’t want to chance it anymore than that.”

The deadline for international Priority Mail is Dec.  3, and the very last day to send Express Mail internationally is Dec. 11.

Also, this year in an effort to relieve long lines and holiday headaches mailers can go to usps.com and print and pay for postage, order free shipping supplies and arrange for a free pick up.

“It’s basically a Post Office at your finger tips,” Reid said. “We want to try to get the easy transactions out of the Post Office lobbies, because a lot of people during the holidays, they’re purchasing stamps or sending things priority mail — that’s the two most popular things we have people waiting in line for. And we’re saying if you go to usps.com, you don’t have to wait in line.”

Priory Mail, Reid said, is the most economical and fastest way to ship gifts and packages. Plus, mailers, “get free supplies, free boxes — you don’t have to purchase a box to mail, and you can order those supplies and we’ll bring them right to your home,” Reid said. “You have to do that by Dec. 3 online at usps.com, and we’ll send you the boxes and the Priority Mail tape and the labels, right to your house. You can get [those supplies] for free at any post office as well. The customer just needs to pay for postage.”

FedEx Office offers last minute holiday senders two shipping deadlines: Dec. 17 for FedEx Ground and Dec. 22 for FedEx Express delivery before Christmas Day.

According to The UPS Store, their busiest day of the year will be Thursday, Dec. 20, when an estimated 28 million packages will be delivered around the world. Most UPS ground packages will reach their destinations in one to three days, and last-minute shoppers who ship their packages Friday, Dec. 21 via UPS Next Day Air should be delivered by Monday, Dec. 24.

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