The Postal Service is being flooded with packages ahead of Christmas, and it could mean that millions of gifts won't arrive on time

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The Postal Service is being flooded with packages ahead of Christmas, and it could mean that millions of gifts won't arrive on time
Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
  • The United States Postal Service is being flooded with packages days before Christmas, and it could mean that millions of gifts won't arrive on time.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in thousands of postal service workers getting sick or needing to isolate and a historic volume of packages being ordered online.
  • It's led to overwhelmed workers and parcels piling up at facilities or on trucks, according to a report from the Washington Post.
  • A spokesperson for the Postal Service confirmed that the agency is dealing with issues stemming from the pandemic. "Our entire Operations team, from collections, to processing to delivery, worked throughout this past weekend and continues to work around the clock to address the historic volume," she said.

The United States Postal Service is being flooded with packages days before Christmas, and it could mean that millions of gifts will be delayed.

According to a report from the Washington Post's Jacob Bogage and Hannah Denham, the Postal Service is experiencing a historic volume of deliveries that's resulting in packages stacked so high it's difficult for employees to walk around, and parcels are sitting on trucks for several days waiting to be sorted. Some employees are reportedly working 80-hour weeks or haven't taken a single day off, even on the weekends, since Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, 19,000 of the Postal Service's 644,000 workers are sick or in isolation due to the coronavirus, the American Postal Workers Union told the Post.

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The Post reports that the issues could result in millions of gifts being delayed, and it could mean items like medications, benefit checks, and bills are held up as well.

"No parcels are moving at all," a Michigan-based postal worker told the Post. "As bad as you think it is, it's worse."

Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, told the Post that workers are "doing the very best we can" and asked for patience.

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"No delayed gift should take away from the valuable family time and the reason people come together and celebrate," Dimondstein said.

Kim Frum, a spokesperson for the Postal Service, confirmed to Business Insider that the agency is dealing with "a historic record of holiday volume" this year, which is being compounded by an employee shortage as the virus surges. The agency is also being affected by capacity challenges with airlines and trucking, which are responsible for transporting the mail.

"Amid the historic volume, the Postal Service continues to flex its network, including making sure the right equipment is available to sort, process and deliver a historic volume of mail and packages this holiday season," Frum said. "Our entire Operations team, from collections, to processing to delivery, worked throughout this past weekend and continues to work around the clock to address the historic volume."

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Frum added that the Postal Service is accepting all parcels that are presented to it, which is adding to the agency's challenges.

Private companies like FedEx and UPS warned retailers early in the holiday shopping season that they were nearly or entirely out of capacity, meaning that retailers looking to ship more packages turned to other avenues - like the Postal Service - to get orders to customers. According to the Post, the Postal Service has started receiving up to 6 million packages per day since FedEx and UPS put those limits in place.

According to a report from Business Insider's Tyler Sonnemaker, FedEx has now begun placing limits on small businesses, restricting the number of packages they can ship per day, further fueling what industry experts are calling "shipageddon."

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Shoppers were expected to turn to online shopping at unprecedented rates this year: recent analysis from eMarketer found that online holiday shopping was expected to grow 35.8% in 2020, while in-store sales were expected to drop 4.7%.

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