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USPS preps for holiday mailing season
Post Office deadlines
The Great Bend Post Office is preparing for holiday mailing this year with extended hours, and extended mailing deadlines.

Thanksgiving has passed, which means for many, the holiday shopping season is just kicking off. And with COVID-19 putting a damper on travel in-person gatherings, this means even more holiday gift and card shipping and mailing.

And Great Bend Postmaster Travis Trendel wants to be sure residents are aware of the changes and holiday shipping guidelines at the Great Bend Post Office for the holidays.

Great Bend is one of several locations in Kansas expanding hours in December to allow for additional processing time. In addition to their regular lobby hours, which are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8:30 a.m.-noon Saturdays, the Great Bend Post Office will also be open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sundays from Dec. 6 to Dec. 20. Great Bend will be the only location in Barton, Pawnee or Stafford County with expanded Sunday hours.

The U.S. Postal Service has set different mailing deadlines for several different mail classes to have them delivered on-time for Christmas.

• For USPS Retail Ground Service, the deadline is Dec. 15. This can be used for packages too large for Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail delivery, and is only available at the at USPS Post Office locations.

• For standard First-Class Mail Service, the deadline is Dec. 18. 

• For Priority Mail Service, the deadline is Dec. 19. This typically ships in 1-3 days, according to the USPS website.

• For Priority Mail Express Service, the deadline is Dec. 23, and typically ships overnight. Both Priority Mail and Priority Mail express can be used for online shipping, as well.

Trendel advised, however, to ensure on-time delivery, to add at least two days to the anticipated shipping deadline. Many post office locations around the country have been struggling with staffing issues due to the pandemic, so processing in many locations is taking longer than usual.

Also, The Associated Press reports that USPS, as well as other shipping companies, are expecting significantly higher than normal volume as many shoppers are expected to take advantage of online commerce as fewer people shop in brick-and-mortar stores due to pandemic concerns.

According to the recent report, Satish Jindel, the president of ShipMatrix, which analyzes shipping package data, predicts 7 million packages a day could face delays from Thanksgiving to Christmas nationwide due to higher volume and strained shipping capacity. Adobe Analytics, which measures sales at 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers, predicts a total of $189 billion in online holiday sales, a 33% increase compared to last year.