Post Office to see increase in holiday deliveries


Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 1:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 1:22 p.m.

The post office expects to deliver nearly 15 billion pieces of mail and 420 million packages during the holiday season.

The U.S. Postal Service said last Wednesday that it expects letters to decline slightly while package deliveries between Thanksgiving and Dec. 31 will rise 12 percent over last year.

The calendar could make letter carriers' jobs tougher. Thanksgiving Day, the traditional kickoff to the peak season, is six days later this year, on Nov. 28.

"It'll be an interesting year this year. You'll have that volume crowded into four weeks instead of five," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in an interview. "We'll be able to handle it."

The post office is adding 8,000 to 10,000 seasonal workers, Donahoe said.

The busiest mailing day is expected to be Monday, Dec. 16, and the busiest day for packages to be Thursday, Dec. 19.

Package deliveries are rising as more consumers shop online. United Parcel Service Co. expects daily volume during the holidays to increase 8 percent, and FedEx Corp. predicts a 13 percent rise during the busiest week in early December.

The Postal Service is looking to increase sales online, which enable customers to print shipping labels and buy postage at home. It's also selling a special holiday stamp featuring gingerbread houses, but there might be fewer people using it.

"Greeting cards are fairly stable," Donahoe said. "You might lose a (percentage) point or two (compared with last year), but it's not a real big change."

Post office, Amazon

Amazon is teaming up with the U.S. Postal Service to deliver packages on Sundays.

The Seattle company says Sunday delivery will be available this week to customers in the New York and Los Angeles metropolitan areas. Amazon and the Postal Service plan to roll out service to "a large portion of the U.S. population" next year, including the cities of Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Phoenix.

Amazon expects Sunday delivery to be popular with members of its Prime service, which costs $79 a year and comes with free two-day shipping on many items on the site as well as access to Amazon's TV and movie streaming service. But Sunday delivery will be available to all Amazon customers.

"For Prime members, it's free, for non-Prime members, it's like any other delivery day of the week," said Dave Clark, vice president of worldwide operations and customer service at Amazon. It won't cost extra to get a package delivered on a Sunday.

Sunday delivery has been on Amazon's wish list for a long time. The company does not disclose the percentage of its packages that are delivered on weekends, but Clark expects customers "to be delighted that they will get their products on a weekend."

Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed, but the deal is likely to give the financially ailing Postal Service a boost. The agency, which lost $16 billion last year, had tried, but failed to end Saturday mail delivery as a cost-saving measure.

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