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Packages centers busy; only a few shipping days left before Christmas

By Amanda Raymond

amanda.raymond@salisburypost.com

LEXINGTON – Amy-Ruth Hallett, owner of The UPS Store in Lexington and two other stores, said just about all the customers she will see on Thursday and Friday sending packages for Christmas will be men.

Whether that is because they don’t have time to send it before then or they are just a little less organized, Hallett can’t say. But it has happened for years.

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for package centers like The UPS Store, the U.S. Post Office and FedEx. With only a few shipping days left before Christmas, the centers are busier than ever.

The Postal Service expects to deliver about 16 billion cards, letters and packages when all is said and done this holiday season, according to a press release.

The organization projects about 750 million packages will be delivered during the holiday season. That is 12 percent more than last year’s numbers.

To account for all the additional deliveries, the Postal Service expanded Sunday delivery operations to all of its locations with high package volumes on Nov. 27. The organization expected more than 5 million packages to be delivered every Sunday in December.

Dec. 19 was predicted to be the busiest mailing and shipping day for holiday packages, letters and cards, and Dec. 22 is expected to be the busiest delivery day.

FedEx expected another “record peak holiday shipping season,” according to its website. The company expects Mondays during the peak of the season to be among the busiest in the company’s history.

While the normal average daily volume is about 12 million, three Mondays in the last peak led to an average daily volume of more than 25 million, according to FedEx.

According to UPS, about 700 million packages are expected to be delivered between Thanksgiving and the end of this month, a 14 percent increase from the same time period last year.

Susan Rosenberg, UPS public relations director, said those were record numbers.

She said the organization has brought on 95,000 seasonal workers nationwide and about 2,450 in North Carolina.

At The UPS Store in Lexington, Hallett hired two seasonal workers. This week is the busiest week of the year for UPS stores, with 30 million deliveries expected every day, so the location in Salisbury was not available for interviews.

Customers who shipped early were able to get shipping rates that were “more economical,” Hallett said. As the week winds down to Friday, the rates will get more and more expensive if the customer wants the package to get to its destination in time for Christmas.

On Wednesday, customers can use UPS 2nd Day Air to get their packages to their destinations before Christmas. For Thursday, customers can use either UPS 2nd Day Air or UPS Next Day Air. On Friday only UPS Next Day Air will be available to get the package to its destination for Christmas.

To help with deliveries, Rosenberg said customers can take advantage of UPS My Choice, a free online service. Customers can get notifications about their deliveries, reschedule or reroute packages and give authorization for UPS to deliver the package without a signature.

Rosenberg said the UPS Access Point, part of UPS My Choice that sets up alternate locations for package pickups, can be helpful for people who live in dense urban centers or apartment buildings.

Hallett said it has gotten busier over the years because more people are shopping online. The company’s trucks are delivering more items, but customers are not actually buying anything from The UPS Store.

UPS has made more business to residential deliveries than in the past because of online shopping, Rosenberg said.

The store does handle more customers who want to return online items to stores, something that is sure to come into play during the weeks after the holiday season sales.

A tip Rosenberg offered to customers was to make sure the online merchant they are purchasing items from has the item in stock and will fulfill the order in time for it to be delivered before Christmas.

Also, UPS ground service’s delivery guarantee is suspended during the week before Christmas, so though it is more expensive, express delivery might be a good option.

While the ground service’s delivery guarantee is suspended, the store’s pack and ship guarantee is not. Hallett suggested allowing one of the store’s trained employees pack and ship items to ensure they arrive at their destinations in one piece. Hallett’s stores even offer custom freight delivery with employees trained in creating custom crates for special deliveries.

For more information, visit the companies’ websites or call:

  • U.S. Post Office at 605 E. Innes St.: www.uspspostoffices.com/nc/salisbury/salisbury
    800-275-8777
  • The UPS Store at 850 W. Jake Alexander Blvd. Suite G: 704-638-0661
  • UPS Customer Center at 1301 Old Concord Road: 800-742-5877
  • FedEx Office Print and Ship Center at 1301 E. Innes St. #103: local.fedex.com/nc/Salisbury/office-1699
    704-636-0415

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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