Montana Public Radio

Holiday Shopping & COVID Are Keeping The Postal Service Busy

Dec 18, 2020

An increase in online shopping due to the pandemic has slammed the United States Postal Service this holiday season, in Montana and across the country .

Missoula Postmaster Michael Slater says post office staff in Missoula are working hard to keep up with demand, loading packages as early as 6 a.m. and delivering until as late as 9 at night. 

"We are seeing almost double what we saw last year, and last year was a record year."

He says they’ve hired new people, started Sunday deliveries and even temporarily expanded their fleet. 

"You will see some packages being delivered from a U-Haul."

Researchers at Adobe Analytics say they expect e-commerce sales in the U.S. to hit $189 billion this holiday season, which translates to two years of sales growth in one, and creates a lot of packages.

Postal Service Communication Specialist Floyd Wagoner says there’s been holiday season-level demand for the Postal Service since April because people are staying home and shopping online more this year due to the pandemic. He say holiday demand has been, extreme.

"As we get closer, this is somewhere we've not been before. It's unpredictable."

To anyone who still needs to send gifts, Wagoner says, "Ship now. It’s now. It’s time."

The first class, regular mail and Military priority express mail deadline is Friday, Dec. 18. The priority mail deadline is Saturday Dec. 19, and priority mail express is December 23rd. The Postal Service encourages customers to use its self-service features to speed up the process and promote social distancing.