By Johnny Jackson
Business is ramping up for the holiday season at area United States Post Offices.
"It looks like people are mailing their packages a little earlier this year," said Jacqueline Spradley, postmaster at the Jonesboro Post Office.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) plans to deliver 15.8 billion cards, letters and packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, using the largest civilian fleet in the world, 216,000 vehicles.
Followed closely by the week preceding Mother's Day, Spradley said, the week heading into the Christmas holidays remains the busiest time of year for many post offices.
The postmaster said USPS customers will find some different services this holiday season, that can aid them in sending mail faster and less expensively.
Spradley said priority, flat-rate shipping is increasingly popular. It allows customers to ship items at a flat rate, no matter their weight, as long as they fit in the Priority Mail Flat Rate Box, which is a postal service-issued shipping container available in four different sizes.
Customers can buy postage and print shipping labels online, she added. There are also free package pick-up services this year, known as "Click-N-Ship," in which customers can go online and schedule to have their packages picked up and delivered.
"We know our customers want more time with their friends and families during the holidays, and less time shipping gifts," said Tim Healy, the USPS Vice President of Retail Products and Services. "We are highlighting the products and services that make holidays less stressful, less hectic -- and yes, simpler -- for our customers."
Healy said that select post offices, as well as usps.com/shop, carry other holiday gift products, such as holiday greeting cards and newly designed "Evergreens" Forever stamps.
"We have an APC, or Automated Postage Center, in the lobby," added Spradley. She said the center accepts credit or debit cards, and is available 24-hours a day for customers wanting to purchase stamps or mail packages and letters.
For those mailing letters, or shipping packages internationally, postal service officials recommend that they consider USPS' international delivery deadlines, for deliveries by Dec. 25.
To learn about USPS deliveries and services this year, visit the USPS web site at www.usps.com.