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US Postal Service Holiday Shipping Delays #USPSDelays

US Postal Service Holiday Shipping Delays #USPSDelays

Posted by RPP on Dec 19th 2020

This is why your packages are still "in transit," and why calling USPS with your tracking number won't track it down more quickly. USPS package volumes are up 30-40%. Staffing is short due to COVID cases and quarantines. The mail is simply backed up. So please be patient and remember to thank your postal carriers! #USPSdelays

NOTE: Until the USPS can catch-up, we strongly encourage our buyers to upgrade to UPS Ground shipping when checking out if you want to ensure your package arrives in a more timely fashion.

Adding to this: letters and flats that can pass through the automatic sorting machines are being processed at much faster rates than large packages, which is why you’re still getting cards and catalogs but not your packages. Although, some of those mail sorting machines were disassembled and removed from distribution centers this past Summer. Additionally, much of the overtime has been removed. Carriers had routinely worked 10-12 hours a day to deliver every piece of mail on their routes. Thus, Mail has started to back up, and at some major distribution centers more than other ones. 

So we have an existing higher volume of daily backlog at many stations going into the holiday season, as a starting point. Then, what happened in nearly every community going into late fall? COVID spiked. This hit USPS as hard as the rest of the country (and in some cases, maybe worse - there are anonymous complaints from distribution centers and local offices around the county about lack of social distancing/mask enforcement and not being informed when coworkers tested positive). At the same time, a solid proportion of the US population decided to skip in-person family gatherings and retail shopping. They turned to online shopping for holiday gifts as well as basic necessities, increasing the volume flowing into the USPS system.

Meanwhile, UPS and FedEx, seeing the predicted volume increases, decided to cap their shipping capacity for major retailers (CNN, UPS places shipping cap on some of its largest retailers as holiday shopping booms). Where did the overflow go? USPS. USPS also handles about 30-40% of Amazon’s packages, delivering packages in areas that aren’t served by Amazon delivery or aren’t economical for UPS/FedEx (so mostly Amazon’s rural package delivery). This is a high volume of packages, as Amazon represents 40% of online retail.

So where does that put us in December? Spiking COVID cases in distribution centers - as well as associated quarantines by coworkers - means that many of these hubs are extremely short staffed. Many workers are being asked to work 6-7 days a week, including planned days off.

When will my package arrive? Your package is probably sitting in a trailer or a hallway in a distribution center. It will be late and we're sorry it can't get to you sooner. Calling USPS with your tracking number will not make your package suddenly reappear in the system (this strategy works when 95% of packages are delivered on time, but not in the current crush). Please be patient and keep an eye on your tracking#. USPS is trying to push everything through the system and we expect to see that happen by the end of 2021.