Increase of package delays during this holiday season

Many customers using USPS found that their packages were delayed because of COVID-19 and the holiday shopping. Photo by Harry Wyman | The Signal

USPS began informing their customers about package delays due to limited transportation availability through their website early in April. As the holiday season approaches, USPS continues emphasizing the importance of mailing packages early.  

The USPS official website states that they are “experiencing unprecedented volume increases and limited employee availability due to the impacts of COVID-19.” These COVID-related difficulties have caused package delays to become another widely-discussed topic amid the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has lasted almost 10 months in the U.S., resulting in reduced employee availability due to social distancing and quarantine. Package volume increased rapidly because of an increase in online shopping to avoid gathering in crowds. DHL Express reported a package volume surge of 45% this year.

In addition, COVID-19 vaccines are now the top priority for shipments, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

As a result, package delays have become the “new normal.” ShipMatrix shows that the on-time delivery rates for USPS between Dec. 13 and 17 are only 86.1%. News sources like the New York Times and US News dubbed the historic delays as the “2020 United States Postal Service Crisis.”

This year’s holiday season heavily contributes to the volume increases since more people are sending holiday gifts by mail. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, predictions show e-commerce sales will increase by about 30% during this time. 

Regarding this situation, USPS responded with promises of swift holiday deliveries on their website: “We are committed to making sure gifts and cards are delivered on time to celebrate the holidays.” 

However, an article from CBS News states that more than 1 million holiday orders cannot be delivered on time this holiday season. 

Many Georgia State students had problems with their package deliveries, like senior Charlene Jones.

“I’ve been experiencing package delivery delays for over two weeks. I was told to expect my package by Dec. 28 after lots of delays, but now I am still waiting for the package,” Jones said.

Emma Dunlap, a freshman, said she ordered a package on Dec. 4 that has yet to arrive.

Many packages, which could be delivered within less than three days before, are now delayed for weeks. Even one-day express mail can take more than a week.

Although people want fast delivery, delays are mainly due to USPS’s efforts to keep employees and customers safe while also trying to provide the best service possible.

COVID-19 is spreading between USPS employees as well. According to CNN, USPS is adding nearly 18,000 employees onto the quarantine list every day, compared to about 8,000 per day before Thanksgiving. 

The Jan. 5 runoff election and an influx of absentee ballots added more pressure to Georgia USPS employees. The AJC states that USPS processed 1.2 million ballots, including those sent to voters and returned to the election officials, by Dec.19 alone. 

Georgia State housing remains open this winter break, but their mailrooms have reduced hours since most students are not on campus. New mailroom hours are weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.