US Postal Service experiencing record mail volumes, delays this holiday season

-Dylan Desrosiers

Picture by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on unsplash.com

Christmas might feel “extended” this year if you’re one of the many thousands of people still waiting for Christmas gifts to arrive.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) normally has their peak season from November to January, but this is unlike anything they have seen ever before.

The backlog of mail is so bad that Wikipedia even has an entry titled “2020 United States Postal Service Crisis.”

According to a Washington Post article, “The backlogs are so pronounced that some [branch] managers have reached out to colleagues in hopes of diverting mail shipments to nearby facilities. But often, those places are full, too. Meanwhile, packages sit on trucks for days waiting for floor space to open so the loads can be sorted.”

Packages and letters have been taking easily upwards of two to three weeks to arrive.

Jordan Scanlon, a senior at NAHS, said his family ordered from an online store on December 11th. “It stayed in Baltimore for a while, then started to move through tracking. It still isn’t here,” said Jordan, on January 5th, 2021.

It seems that all classes of mail, including First Class and Priority, no longer guarantee their promised delivery times of three to five days and one to three days, respectively. Even Amazon Prime can’t seem to stick to their famous two-day shipping.

Many customers who track their packages with USPS Informed Delivery have reported watching their packages bounce all around the country or sit still for days at a time at distribution centers.

These delays meant many millions of presents weren’t under the tree in time for Christmas.

English teacher Mrs. Violette said, “My mom has been sending me and my kids a ton of packages over the past month. She’s sending everything from Vermont, and before Christmas we’d receive each item she sent in one or two days. The day after Christmas, though, she mailed out a package with cinnamon buns that was supposed to arrive within two days, and I still haven’t received it” as of January 4th, 2021.

But what is causing these record delays? According to an article in the Washington Post by Jacob Bogage and Hannah Denham, the delays can be contributed to three main factors: “spiking coronavirus cases in its workforce,” which means they can’t get enough workers, “unprecedented volumes of e-commerce orders and the continuing fallout from a hobbled cost-cutting program launched by the postmaster general.”

The USPS website does not have any estimates as to when mail delivery will be back to normal speed.

Even though things might seem slow, the USPS is doing all they can to return to normal.

The Washington Post reports that some employees are working 80-hour weeks, with no time off on weekends or in between weeks.

While it’s uncertain when missing Christmas gifts will be delivered, hopefully they’ll be appreciated whenever they do arrive!

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