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Online buying boosts processing, workload


Post office: Mail packages now for Christmas



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Veronica Miskovsky, right, of Alpharetta, hands her Christmas package to Jeff Schneider, of the UPS Store. ALDO NAHED. (click for larger version)
December 19, 2012
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — At area post offices and shipping stores, the buzz and energy to get packages delivered on time for Christmas is what these employees have come to deal with in their line of work.

This year, Roland White, manager of the U.S. Post Office in Cumming, has seen another phenomenon take place.

"We are getting a record number of boxes coming in from Amazon.com and Ebay.com and things like that," White said. "Online purchasing has really caught on this year."

Preliminary data is showing shoppers bought electronics, clothing, shoes and toys online at record numbers.

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A U.S. Postal Service customer enters the Cumming location on Tribble Gap Road. ALDO NAHED. (click for larger version)
Consumers took advantage of Cyber Monday (Nov. 26) week deals, spending on average $300 online, while spending only $244 in stores, according to Compete.com, a Web traffic analyst site.

Jeff Schneider, of the UPS Store in Alpharetta, said business is brisk, but so far he thinks people are waiting to the last minute to ship. This week, he expects things to really pick up.

FedEx officials say they have delivered an estimated 19 million packages worldwide, breaking their previous record of 17.2 million packages by Dec. 12.

The post office is also sorting through parcels coming in from online mailers and shipped from customers.

"There have been a lot more people purchasing online," White said. "We have been busier than I've seen here in the last couple years. I think it's great for the economy and great for us and the fact that people are already mailing earlier to make sure their parcels get there on time."

The busiest shipping days for the postal service were last week and this week, White said.

"You can expect something to be delivered within the Atlanta area within two days and out of state within the Southeast or the Eastern seaboard during the holidays, you will have to mail five to six days ahead of time to get it to your destination by Christmas using normal mail," White said.

White suggests people mail by Dec. 17 or Dec. 18 at the latest to get it by Christmas.

Priority mail and first class mail are both services that will be the best bet to get it delivered on time and can be tracked online as well, to see where the package is headed.

With regard to packaging, in today's environment where machines handle a lot of mail and conveyors help sort items, it's important to wrap packages tightly and securely.

"It's important you don't wrap them loosely with string," White said. "You want to have good strong quality tape and a gift box or container in them because they do get handled from place to place on machines, conveyors and robots."

Another big issue is the shipping and receiving address. Make sure the writing is large and plain.

"Don't put the 'to' address near the 'from' address and make sure they are separated and in the correct format," White said. "A lot of people will put the 'to' address right on top of the 'from' address and that will cause it to be misdirected back to them, which we don't want."

With Christmas shipping starting earlier this year, customers are coming in to the post office, so time trips accordingly.

"We are fully staffed here in Cumming," White said. "Someone in every window. Anytime someone leaves for lunch, we have somebody in their place. We have people in the lobby helping people with their packages. We are fully staffed and we are working everybody as many hours as we can to make sure that we can move the mail quickly during the holidays."

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