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Christmas shipping deadlines loom this week

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Joyce Holland doesn't like to wait to send Christmas gifts to her loved ones.

The Jonesboro resident tries to get her presents in the mail one or two weeks in advance.

On Friday, Holland spent 10 minutes purchasing labels from the Automated Postal Center (APC) at the Jonesboro Post Office for packages she planned to send. She then placed the labels on a large box and three large envelopes before handing them off to postal workers.

"I did it today because it was a convenient day," Holland said. "I was out and I had to send these packages, so it made sense. I always try to get my gifts in the mail well before the shipping deadlines arrive, because I don't like to wait until the last minute."

The deadline to send parcel packages so they arrive before Christmas is Saturday. The deadline to send letters, or priority mail is Dec. 20, and the deadline to send express mail is two days later.

Jacqueline Spradley, the postmaster at the Jonesboro Post Office, said traffic at local post offices typically picks up on the Monday of the week before Christmas. The number of people coming to the post office in the days leading up to the deadlines is as much as 75 percent higher than normal, she added.

"I'd say the best times to come to the post office are mid-morning, and after 2 p.m.," Spradley said. "A lot of people try to come in on their lunch break, so that's one of our busiest times of the day."

Spradley said there are alternatives to waiting in lines at the post office's main drop off room.

One alternative is to use the APC's, which are in the lobbies of all post offices. The APC can weight a package, determine postage, and print stamps. The person sending the package can use cash, debit and credit cards. After the postage is placed on the package, it can be put in a drop-off bin.

Another alternative is printing postage at home, using the United States Postal Service's web site, and arranging to have a post office employee come by to pick up the package.

"If they ship it online, they won't even have to come by the post office," Spradley said.

The APC was popular with several people who came by the Jonesboro Post Office on Friday to send Christmas cards and packages.

Stockbridge resident, Joy Standard, stopped by to send Christmas cards. She didn't want to wait for expected long lines until next week.

"There are so many people who wait until the last minute that it's craziness all the time during the week before Christmas," Standard said.

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On the net:

United States Postal Service: http://www.usps.com