Postal deadlines, delays loom for holiday shipping
Make sure your loved one’s get your presents under their trees by Christmas!
[email protected] Santa may be able to deliver gifts to all the good little boys and girls all in one night on Christmas Eve, but the rest of us have to rely on the shipping business to get our packages to loved ones during the holiday season. Fortunately, even lacking a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, those playing Santa to friends and relations this year have a number of options at their disposal.
FedEx, UPS, Amazon and others will all handle their share of holiday packages, but, even here in the age of two-day delivery promises and plenty of shipping options, the Postal Service is still the king of the Christmas present delivery services.
Despite competition from other shippers, the USPS still sees in excess of 20 billion parcels during the runup to Christmas. Post offices around the country are inundated with Christmas cards, care packages and gift boxes.
Gift-givers need to be aware of fast approaching deadlines, especially those with an eye on sending packages overseas. Leisa Tolliver-Gay, USPS Customer Relations Coordinator for the Little Rock hub, offers some advice.
“The earlier the better,” she suggests. “Sometimes people don’t realize how long it takes to get something to someone, especially around Christmas.”
Of course, the postal service and other shippers are expecting more people to ship gifts this year during the coronavirus pandemic.
Therefore, if you want your gifts to make it before the holiday – you might consider shipping them earlier.
If you want your package to make it before Christmas, FedEx, USPS and UPS have different deadlines for you to ship your gifts.
For the 2021 shipping calendar, the deadline for USPS Retail Ground Service, is Dec. 15. For regular First-class Mail you have until Dec. 17, and for Priority Mail the deadline is Dec. 18.
If time is a greater factor than cost, there’s Priority Mail Express, and the deadline is Dec. 23.
For those with loved ones serving overseas in the military who wish to send a little holiday cheer, the last day to send letters and cards via Priority Mail Express Military Service mail, the general deadline is Dec. 13 for certain regions, including Europe, Mexico and the Middle East. A costlier but faster route, Global Express Guaranteed Service, will give you until Dec. 21 (Dec. 20 for Asia, the Pacific Rim and Australia), or Dec. 22 for Mexico and Canada.
Tolliver-Gay said she expects the week of Dec.
17-23, the seven days before Christmas, to be their busiest days leading up to the holidays. She said correct packaging is an important factor to consider when shipping gifts.
“Everyone wants their package to look like a Christmas present,” she said. “But we recommend clear plain wrapping, preferably one of our own boxes.” Simple wrapping is the simplest and best way to ensure easy shipping and delivery. “Print the address completely and clearly,” she added.
Senders also need to be aware of what can and can’t be shipped via U.S.
Mail. Even during the holidays, the same rules that always apply to the mail still apply. There are restrictions and regulations on perishable items, live animals, electronic and magnetic items, and other materials, such as tobacco and firearms. Check with your local post office or visit faq.usps.com for more detailed guidelines on mailable items. If it is questionable, just take the item unwrapped to the post office or your shipper of choice, and if it can be shipped they will give you your best options.
As for the competition, Tolliver-Gay says the post office definitely has felt the impact of shippers like FedEx and UPS. With online shopping becoming so prevalent, shipping companies often get consumers “coming and going,” shipping the item to the giver, who in turn ships the item to its ultimate recipient.
Online shoppers may want to use “drop shipping,” which will deliver the item in question straight to the final destination. As long as the buyer doesn’t have the need to inspect the quality of the item first, such as an item bought on eBay, this method can save time and money.
UPS and FedEx have
Continued on Page 3
carved their share of seasonal business with competitive pricing and ontime guarantees, and both carriers offer Christmas Eve delivery on packages shipped on Dec. 23. The post office says they can deliver on Christmas Eve or even Christmas Day in many cases. The post office offers shippers a few other conveniences as well.
“Online,” said Tolliver-Gay, “you can buy postage, schedule at home pick-up, all without leaving your house.”
If it becomes necessary to venture out, though, Tolliver-Gay had praise for the staff at the West Memphis Post Office.
“They know what people need this time of year. And we’ll do lobby sweeps to help customers as well.”
She said West Memphis is one of the state’s busiest locations.
So consider your options this holiday season to ensure your gifts reach the
hands of those intended.
• FedEx (excluding Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico) FedEx Ground – Dec. 15 FedEx Home Delivery Dec. 15 FedEx Standard Overnight – Dec. 23 FedEx Priority Overnight Dec. 23
• UPS (except Canada and Mexico) UPS Ground – Dec. 15 UPS 3-Day Select – Dec.
21 UPS 2nd Day Air – Dec. 22 UPS Next Day Air – Dec.
23 Regardless of which carrier you choose, consider insuring packages and give them enough time to get there.