It’s an ominous sign of the times. Makes it easier to understand why your packages aren’t arriving when the U.S. Postal Service posts a notice like this on its website: “USPS is experiencing unprecedented volume increases and limited employee availability due to the impacts of COVID-19. We appreciate your patience and remain committed to delivering the holidays to you.”

The Postal Service could have gone a step further and simply said, “Good luck on your packages arriving on time.” That would have been putting it all on the line. All around the country, people are asking why packages are delayed. But let’s be honest, we began hearing warnings of shipping issues more than a month ago along with recommendations to get Christmas packages on the way early.

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A public release from the USPS this week says. “While every year the Postal Service carefully plans for peak holiday season, a historic record of holiday volume compounded by a temporary employee shortage due to the COVID-19 surge, and capacity challenges with airlifts and trucking for moving this historic volume of mail are leading to temporary delays. These challenges are being felt by shippers across the board. The Postal Service leadership team, the unions and management associations are all working in close collaboration to address issues and concerns as they arise as we focus on delivering the Holidays for the nation.”

The Washington Post characterizes the situation as the USPS is “gridlocked”. The Post reports United Parcel Service and FedEx are cutting off new delivery orders from some big-name retailers. That traffic is being rerouted through the Postal Service making things even worse. It reports some retailers are saying it is already too late for packages to be guaranteed a delivery date by Christmas. The Postal Service offers these mailing and shipping dates for expected delivery by Christmas to Air/Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office/Diplomatic Post Office and domestic addresses*:

Dec. 18 — APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express service

Dec. 18 — First-Class Mail service (including greeting cards)

Dec. 18 — First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)

Dec. 19 — Priority Mail service

Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express *service

Final thought. Good Luck.

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