By Joel Hall
For the U.S. Postal Service, the last full week before Christmas has consistently been its busiest mailing time of the year.
With Christmas mailing deadlines rapidly approaching, post offices In Clayton County are encouraging residents to mail their packages early.
Donna Davenport, customer service supervisor for the Jonesboro Post Office on North Main Street, said that before the end of the holiday season, the postal service nationwide will have processed nearly 19 billion letters, cards, and packages.
"Mondays are the busiest days for us, anyway, but people are trying to get their last parcels posted," before Christmas, said Davenport on Monday. "Three times what we normally take in on any day, that is what we are going to take in today.
"Priority Mail is on average, a two-to-three day service, but when you get a lot more mail in the system, you don't always meet that average," said Davenport.
In order for residents to get their packages to their destinations before Christmas, Clayton County post offices are issuing a series of deadlines for its various mailing services.
With yesterday being the last day to send packages by standard domestic mail, residents will have to rely on more elite services to ship their packages on time.
Dec. 19 will be the last day packages can be sent using Priority Mail and arrive before Christmas Day. Dec. 20 will be the last day to send First-Class Mail, and Dec. 23 will be the last day for Express Mail.
Michael Miles, Atlanta area spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service, said the 19 billion items the postal service expects to process during this holiday season is down from the 20 billion items processed last year. However, he still expects things to be busy and suggests that people prepare before they make a trip to the post office.
"It's the last full week, so for some reason, people tend to focus on [Christmas] a little more," said Miles. "We basically don't hire any additional people for Christmas. The only way we can deal with the high amount of mail is to spread out the work a bit."
Miles said people can make their time at the post office easier by avoiding peak hours, having packages sealed and properly addressed before they come to the post office, and mailing packages as soon as possible.
At North Main Street location, as well as the Walter Way, Stockbridge location, people with packages measuring less than 70 inches in combined length, girth, and height, can use the APC (Automated Postal Center). The APC is accessible 24 hours a day and allows people to purchase postage, and ship their packages without the need of an attendant.
"It's better for everyone involved, if they don't wait until the last minute," said Miles.
For more information about how to prepare for the holiday mailing season, visit www.usps.com.