Holiday rush is on

Mailing deadlines loom; post office lines common in afternoon

ERIN O’NEILL The Marietta Times Kelly Hardman, of Marietta, prepares Christmas gifts to be shipped to Sweden Wednesday at the Marietta Post Office. Deadlines for sending out packages to arrive by Dec. 25 are quickly approaching.

There was a steady stream of customers at the Marietta Post Office Wednesday, with many of them trying to get holiday packages sent out before the mailing deadlines.

“I drove by yesterday and the line to get in the parking lot was so long, I decided I’d just come back today,” said Lacey Thompson of Marietta, who was sending a package to her sister in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Thompson said she normally tries to do all of her mailing online but wanted to guarantee that the package would arrive at its destination.

“My brother-in-law actually sent this present for me to wrap for my sister and now I’m mailing it back to him,” she laughed.

The deadlines for domestic shipping are Dec. 19 for First-Class cards and packages; Dec. 20 for Priority Mail; and Dec. 22 for Priority Express Mail.

Acting Postmaster Julie Pepper said afternoons, after folks get off work, are some of the busiest times for the counter. Of course, the carriers are busy all the time.

“We are the biggest distributor for Amazon in the area and we have carriers out from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., as well as Sundays,” she said.

With more people making purchases online, the United States Postal Service expects to deliver 750 million packages this season, an increase of 7 percent over last year.

Along with an increase in home deliveries comes an increase in theft. According to the Associated Press, a report from shows that 25.9 million Americans have had a holiday package stolen from their front porch or doorstep–up from 23.5 million porch thefts reported in 2015.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the postal service, has tips to try to deter some of these “porch pirates.”

If you notice an unfamiliar vehicle following behind the USPS truck or unknown persons loitering around mailboxes, immediately report the activity to your local police department and then call the Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455. Consider forming a neighborhood watch or using a P.O. box. And never leave packages unattended in the mail box or on your porch for an extended period of time.

Marietta resident Kelly Hardman was preparing a package at the post office Wednesday to be shipped internationally to Sweden.

“We had an exchange student in 2002 and now she has children, so I am sending them gifts from America,” she said. “Usually with letters it takes about a week but packages take two or three weeks.”

International shipping deadlines are Saturday for Priority Mail International; Dec. 14 for Priority Mail Express International; and Dec. 19 for Global Express Guaranteed.

“I think it will get there on time. I usually spend more on shipping than I spent on the gift,” Hardman joked.

In addition to the USPS deadlines, Dec. 18 is the last day to use UPS 3-Day Select delivery for a package to arrive on time. According to the company’s website, there is no pick up or delivery on Dec. 24 or 25. FedEx offers several delivery services on Dec. 23, as well as shipping on Christmas Day with FedEx SameDay service for an extra fee.

USPS employees also encouraged people to get their Forever stamps now as the price will be going up one penny to 50 cents for a First-Class stamp beginning Jan. 21.

Shipping deadlines

¯ International

Priority Mail International: Saturday.

Priority Mail Express International: Dec. 14.

Global Express Guaranteed: Dec. 19.

¯ Domestic

First-Class Package Service Retail: Dec. 19.

Priority Mail: Dec. 20.

Priority Mail Express: Dec. 22.

Source: USPS.

Safety tips

¯ Pick up your mail promptly after delivery. Don’t leave it in your mailbox or on a porch overnight. Consider asking a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up mail.

¯ Tell your post office when you’ll be out of town, so they can hold your mail until you return.

¯ Consider starting a neighborhood watch program.

¯ Install video surveillance.

¯ Consider using a P.O. box.

¯ When sending a package, opt for registered mail or Signature Services.

¯ If you see a mail thief at work, or if you believe your mail was stolen, call police immediately, then call Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455.

Source: The United States Postal Inspection Service.