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Christmas gifts may not arrive on time; USPS sees high demand and delays

Postmaster general says USPS is financially unsustainable
Posted at 9:08 AM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 10:08:01-05

DENVER — Christmas gifts may not arrive in time as U.S. Postal Service offices struggle to keep up with delivery demands.

James Boxrud, a USPS spokesperson based in Colorado, said they're experiencing historical mail volume.

“This week is our busiest week, of our busiest month, of our busiest year ever,” Boxrud said. “We are seeing so many packages.”

Millions of Americans turned to online shopping during the pandemic for everyday necessities and again for holiday shopping.

“It’s like the perfect storm,” Boxrud said.

USPS is overwhelmed as people experience long delays and deliveries past the promised window on priority shipping.

Stephanie Turner, a teacher and business owner, said with family gatherings canceled, her package list got a little longer this year.

“We would normally ship three or four boxes of gifts, and this year we are shipping five because of people we are not seeing,” Turner said. “If everybody is shipping a little bit more, it’s going to be overwhelming.”

She mailed her gifts right after Thanksgiving and said they all arrived, but it’s her business she’s worried about. Turner sells custom jackets and tops on her website and Poshmark.

“Right now, I have items that I mailed on Dec. 1 that still haven’t arrived, so that’s three weeks,” Turner said. “I feel really bad for my customers, but there is not much I can do.”

The shipping delays tie up money — she doesn’t get paid until the package arrives.

The Washington Post reported nearly 19,000 of the agency’s 644,000 workers are under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. They also found that mail performance plummeted and only 75% of first-class mail, like letters and bills, arrived during the promised window on the week of Dec. 5. Mail service scored 95% last year during the same time period.

“We are flexing our resources,” Boxrud said.“We are borrowing people from areas of Colorado, bringing them to an area that needs some help just to try to keep up with that flow.”

On Monday, USPS delivered 971,000 packages in Colorado and Wyoming, according to Boxrud.

Private express carriers also stopped serving some businesses, which pushed more shipments through USPS adding to an already strained agency, the Washington Post reported.

Turner is encouraging people to print out photos of gifts that haven’t arrived and wrap them up. She said she read the tip online.

“Just be patient — it’s going to come,” Tuner said.

Some Coloradans believe that while it’s frustrating, they understand postal workers are doing their best under the circumstances.

“I feel bad for those guys,” Turner said.

Many postal workers are working overtime and will work into Christmas Eve to deliver packages. Boxrud said some express mail will be delivered on Christmas Day.

This story originally reported by Adi Guajardo on TheDenverChannel.com.