A year after COVID-19 staff shortages delayed mail and packages, the U.S. Postal Service says it is ready for the expected rush of holiday packages and cards.
Debra Jean Fetterly, USPS spokesperson for the Alabama-Mississippi District, said the service has hired several hundred seasonal employees to process, transport and deliver the mail.
In the Birmingham area, U.S.P.S. has also leased a building at 3501 First Ave. for a package sorting annex, where additional mail processing package sorting equipment has been installed.
“Package sorters can process 3,000 packages per hour, which is up to 12 times faster than if processed manually,” Fetterly said. “We also have installed additional package sorters at the Huntsville Processing and Distribution Facility.”
A year ago, COVID outbreaks among postal workers, coupled with a surge in online holiday gift orders, choked the postal system at its busiest time of the year. The system was further hampered by a scarcity of airplane and truck capacity. According to the postal service, the 2020 holiday peak season saw a 48 percent increase in its package volume, including a 102 percent increase in oversized packages, which it called “unprecedented.”
The Postal Service estimates this year it will deliver between 850 million and 950 million packages and more than 12 billion letters, cards, and packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. The busiest time of the season for the Postal Service begins two weeks before Christmas, with the week of Dec. 13 through 18 predicted to be the busiest mailing, shipping and delivery week.
U.S.P.S. recommends that customers use free Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, available at post offices or online. You can also recreate shipping labels and pay for postage online here. Customers can schedule a free package pickup when the carrier delivers your mail, regardless of how many packages.
Mail and packages weighing more than 10 ounces, or more than a half-inch thick using stamps as postage, cannot be dropped into a collection box or left for a carrier to pick up. For delivery, take them to a retail outlet or the Post Office.