Millions of Christmas Presents Are Likely to Be Late as Postal Service Struggles with Demands

Eric Todisco
·2 min read

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Christmas gifts may be missing underneath the tree for millions of families this year as the U.S. Postal Service struggles with the high demand of holiday deliveries.

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic causing the majority of customers to shop online rather than in-person, an unprecedented number of packages have been ordered and have caused an extreme delay in holiday shipping.

"We're really busy. It's been unbearable," Manny Huenchunir, a Postal Service truck driver in Boston, told NPR.

"The warehouse is packed," Huenchunir added. "Boxes from wall to wall and trucks waiting to get into dock for like three hours, waiting in line just to unload."

According to data from the USPS, the postal service's on-time delivery rate for first-class mail sank to about 75% in early December, a sharp decrease from 95% last year. It's also the lowest score since USPS delivery began reporting the figures in 2007.

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Another reason for the delays is a shortage of staff. According to The Washington Post, nearly 19,000 of the USPS’s 644,000 workers are in quarantine due to exposure to the virus or testing positive themselves.

To keep up with the high demand, the remaining postal workers have been forced to put in overtime hours. For example, Debbie Aspell told NPR she's been working 11-hour days, six days a week for nearly all of December.

"We've been bombed. It's been crazy," Aspell said, adding that she's been waiting for the the pajamas she sent to her 36-year-old son in Texas to arrive.

"I sent it by express mail, and I keep tracking it, and it says it's still in Boston," she said. "No matter how old your kids are, you still don't want to see them wake up Christmas morning with nothing."

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Despite the unprecedented delays, mailing industry officials feel confident that all the deliveries will arrive at their intended destination — eventually.

“We’re doing the very best we can,” APWU National President Mark Dimondstein told The Washington Post. “We know you appreciate that. This is a long, hard struggle. We’re asking for your patience, and no delayed gift should take away from the valuable family time and the reason people come together and celebrate."

"Hopefully everything will make it there on time," Dimondstein added. "But if it doesn’t, it’ll still get there.”