Record-Breaking Holiday Shipping Expected This Year
The U.S. postal service expects more holiday gifts will be sent through the mail this year due to social distancing. And they're not the only one. FedEx is expecting record-breaking shipping volumes as more packages are hitting their network than ever before.
Jami Caloway is waiting in line at a Tallahassee post office. She's there to pick up a gift and says most of her packages have been arriving late.
"I had USPS priority mail. I should have gotten it in three days. It took almost a week to get it," Caloway says.
Caloway says this holiday has been especially hard because she lost her job and hasn't had an unemployment check come in four weeks.
"I'm not doing any shopping this year. I just don't have the money," Caloway says.
So, friends and family are sending her packages. Clayt Thompson owns two UPS stores in Tallahassee. He says it's been a challenging year for everyone and believes people may be feeling extra generous this year.
"Those people are coming into the store because I believe they have greater concerns for their families and friends, and they want to reach out to them in ways that they can't do such as face-to-face visits," Thompson says.
Many people are planning to spend their holiday hunkered down at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meaning some gifts will have to be mailed off. It's something Wanda Harris is already seeing. She's President of the Miami Chapter of the American Postal Workers Union.
"The package industry has exploded due to the pandemic with everyone being at home. We always had a good volume of packaging, but [it] has increased even more due to the pandemic, and everyone, just about everyone is ordering online," Harris says.
Postal workers deliver more than mail. Carriers drop off parcels for companies like UPS, FedEx, and Amazon. Harris says mail has been increasing because lots of families are staying apart.
"So you know, a lot of love notes being sent, a lot of cards being sent, a lot of letters. The mail volume has come up a little bit even more. But the packaging has really increased," Harris says.
The post office says the two weeks before Christmas is the busiest time of the season. Harris says not long-ago postal workers had to deliver a surge of mail-in ballots for the 2020 general election, and those long shifts have continued into the holidays.
"So we're still working our 12, 14-hour shift, six days a week, some people are doing seven because of the increase of the package industry," Harris says.
The Postal Service recommends people send gifts earlier this holiday season to make sure it shows up on time.