Post office prepares for busiest delivery day

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COLUMBIA – The countdown is on to make holiday delivery deadlines. 

Columbia Postmaster Mark Rask said Monday, Dec. 21 is expected to be the busiest delivery day for the U.S. Postal Service.

In Columbia, Rask said, he expects the post office to deliver 350,000 packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

Since Thanksgiving, Rask said about 250,000 packages have already been delivered in Columbia.

That leaves less than a week to deliver about 100,000 more packages.

“Over the next week, we’ll probably be averaging 15,000 packages a day,” Rask said.

And he said this is more than usual.

“I’ve been with the post office for over 30 years,” Rask said. “This is the busiest Christmas season I have ever, ever had.”

Rask said two Mondays ago, the post office delivered 25,000 packages in Columbia.

“That’s just unheard of for one day,” he said. “We normally do, during the regular time of year, maybe 5-6,000 packages a day.”

Rask said he thinks he knows the reason the post office has seen such a spike in numbers.

“Many, many more online shoppers,” he said. “We started delivering for Amazon in September.”

Rask said his employees have been working hard to make sure customers end up satisfied.

“All of my employees are pretty much working the max amount of hours,” he said. “They’re working 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week. They’re just committed to making sure our customers are taken care of.”

Rask said there are people working at the post office during the holiday season both earlier and later than usual, from 11 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“We have really a three-hour-gap from being a 24-hour operation this time of year,” he said.

When more packages are delivered, that can sometimes mean more opportunity for thieves to take advantage.

The Columbia Police Department said there have been three reports of stolen packages since Dec. 14. All investigations are ongoing.

Columbia Public Information Officer Bryana Larimer gave some tips to prevent package theft.

  • Have packages delivered to a location where they can be received in person, when possible
  • When making a purchase online, choose a specific delivery time if the retailer allows that option
  • If buying from a larger retailer, have the package delivered to a local store for pick-up, if the retailer allows
  • Use delivery alerts so a notification is sent when the package has arrived
  • Ask a trusted neighbor to take the package inside if you are not home
  • Ask the delivery company to hold the package at its closest pick-up facility until you can pick it up
  • Ask the delivery company to require a signature confirmation to prevent packages being left when no one is home
  • Provide delivery instructions so packages can be left out of sight from your yard or the road

The deadline to mail standard letters and packages through the U.S. Postal Service and have them received by Dec. 24 was Tuesday, Dec. 15. If you missed that deadline, there is still an opportunity to have the packages and letters arrive on time. Here are other deadlines:

  • First-class: Saturday, Dec. 19
  • Priority mail service: Monday, Dec. 21
  • Priority mail express service: Wednesday, Dec. 23

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