Shelly Lippert was ready for Monday.
With Christmas around the corner, the interim postmaster for Great Bend knew it marked the Postal Service’s most hectic mailing day of the year with more than 800 million pieces of mail entering the system. This represents a 40 percent increase in the average daily volume of 559 million.
"It’s a busy day," she said.
As of early Monday afternoon, one truck full of parcels had already been processed at the Great Bend office, the packages on their way to holiday destinations. That is 600 items. She expected two more loads to go out, totaling around 1,000 packages by day’s end.
By contrast, a normal day sees 250-300.
"We had all three windows staffed all day long," she said. Lippert had to bring in some part-time postal clerks from other offices to help.
As for Christmas cards and other letters, these are not canceled at Great Bend. They do, however, pass through the office. Lippert expected there to be three truck loads of these items as well.
"We sold more Christmas stamps than we have in the past," she said. "I am thinking we’ll see many of those come back through (attached to letters)."
"There’s still time to mail greeting cards and ship presents," said Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe. "If customers get their cards and packages to us by (today), we’ll get them delivered by Christmas."
Monday was the recommended deadline for sending greeting cards and holiday letters to arrive in time for Christmas. Today is the recommended deadline for sending packages using Priority Mail. For those last-minute shoppers and procrastinators, the Postal Service recommends Wednesday as the last day to ship packages using Express Mail.
Customers can skip the trip to the Post Office altogether and ship online using the Postal Service’s website, usps.com. Using Click-N-Ship, customers can print shipping labels and pay for postage. The Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes virtually eliminate the need for a scale to weigh the package.
Customers also may request free package pickup online at usps.com. The Postal Service will pick up packages during regular mail delivery the next business day — and, unlike with other shipping companies, there is no fee for this service.
Another way customers can save time during the holiday shipping rush is by using Automated Postal Centers (APCs). Just as an ATM is a virtual bank, the APC is a virtual, stand-alone Post Office. The APC does everything short of face-to-face transactions – dispensing stamps, weighing packages and calculating postage for Express Mail, Priority Mail, First-Class Mail and Parcel Post items.