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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 spokeswoman 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, USPS has leased a building for a package sorting annex, where additional 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. Ala., distribution facility.”
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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% increase in its package volume, including a 102% increase in oversized packages, which was 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. 13-18 predicted to be the busiest mailing, shipping and delivery week.
USPS recommends that customers use free Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, available at post offices or online. You can also re-create shipping labels and pay for postage online. Customers can schedule a free package pickup when the carrier delivers the mail, regardless of how many packages.
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