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Post offices brace for Christmas rush

This week marks busiest of year as post offices handle Christmas mail

Anthony Waters at the United States Post Office location on South Slappey Boulevard in Albany, helps as customer get Christmas mail sent out Monday, this year's busiest mailing day. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

Anthony Waters at the United States Post Office location on South Slappey Boulevard in Albany, helps as customer get Christmas mail sent out Monday, this year's busiest mailing day. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

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Durrell Stroud at downtown Albany Post Office helps a customer prepare a holiday box to be mailed out for Christmas. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

ALBANY — With Christmas fast approaching, post offices nationwide have braced for the busiest week of the year and the Albany area is no different.

“We had a little over 4,000 packages come in for delivery this morning,” said North Florida District Postmaster Ron Bradley. “It’s been unbelievable; more than I’ve ever seen.”

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Customers wait patiently in line at the downtown Albany post office on Monday, the busiest mailing day of the year. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

Bradley said Monday marked this year’s busiest mailing day and the start of the busiest week of the year for the postal service. According to Bradley, Monday’s activity consisted mainly of packages and that Wednesday will see increased card activity.

“Today is the busiest package delivery day,” Bradley said. “Wednesday will be the biggest card day. Wednesday’s going to be a killer too.”

Postal Service activity historically increases during the holiday season with things culminating just prior to Christmas. This year the Postal Service estimated that more than 600 million pieces of mail were processed Monday.

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Amanda McKey of South Slappey post office employee prepares a customer's holiday package to be sent out for delivery by Christmas Day. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

Bradley said this particular week is typically the busiest because people are wanting to send letters and packages out in time for recipients to receive them just prior to Christmas.

“Well the closer you get to Christmas, the slower the mail is,” Bradley said. “People need to go ahead and get things sent out to ensure they get where they’re going.”

Bradley said there is still time for people to mail packages and letters and have them arrive on time and offered a few tips to help people ensure timely delivery.

“The closer it gets to Christmas, if folks want to make sure things get where they’re going on time, they need to stay away from parcel post,” said Bradley. “The next three or four days people should use priority mail. After that they better go express to make sure it gets there.”

In addition to choosing the proper mailing type, people also need to be mindful of how they mail things out. Bradley said every year the post office ends up returning seemingly small packages to senders because the packages were dropped in a box without the proper postage.

“People really should never put parcels in the blue box with stamps on it,” Bradley said. “If it weighs 13 ounces or more it’ll come back to you. Really anything other than letters should be brought to the window.”

This year, the postal service estimates more than 420 million packages alone will be delivered nationwide during the holiday season, which is a 12 percent increase over last year. In total, nearly 15 billion cards, letters and packages will be delivered between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

That kind of volume, Bradley said, means a lot of extra hours for postal employees.

“Workers come in early in the morning and the carriers are out later and later,” he said. “We end up with a lot of overtime.”

All post offices will be open Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, both falling on a Tuesday, but some will have shortened lobby hours. Mail delivery for those days will be the same as any other Tuesday. In observance of the holidays all offices will be closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Only Express Mail will be delivered on those days in some areas.