Millions of packages are headed out for the holidays as shipping companies and the U.S. Postal Service handle their busiest season yet.
The Postal Service will deliver 365 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year's; add cards and letters, and they're handling 17 billion pieces of mail. FedEx was expected to set a record Monday, its busiest day of the year, by delivering 19 million shipments in one day — up 10 percent from last year.
Consumers' preference to avoid packed stores and shop online is contributing to the increase in volume of packages each holiday season, shippers say.
“A lot more people are shopping online. Cyber Monday has taken over Black Friday, so there are a lot more packages in general,” said Dionne Montague, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service in Oklahoma.
If they prefer, customers can avoid lines at the post office, too. Shippers can go online, pay for postage, print it out and request a carrier pick up from their home or office, Montague said. But the last day to do so in time for Christmas delivery is Dec. 20.
Because Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year, last-minute shipments will need to be not so last minute.
Both FedEx and the Postal Service require overnight parcels to be shipped by Dec. 22, to arrive by Christmas Day. UPS next day air packages will need to be shipped by Dec. 21, to be delivered by Christmas Eve.
FedEx hired 20,000 seasonal workers nationwide to handle the onslaught of seasonal packages.
“We plan several months out going into this peak season,” said Tom Compise, operations manager for the Oklahoma City FedEx facility at 4220 N Santa Fe. “People are going to procrastinate, I'm sure. With the shortened delivery span, we are expecting heavy volume on the Monday before Christmas.”