Kenny Solomon-Gross retrieves packages at the Federal Building Post Office on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Kenny Solomon-Gross retrieves packages at the Federal Building Post Office on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Post offices hustle to handle holiday haul

Extra workers and extra hours help compensate for volume

The holidays can be stressful for many and for the U.S. Postal Service, it’s easily the biggest and busiest month of work all year, every year.

“I think we’re busier than Santa Claus,” said Melissa Medeiros, USPS marketing manager for Alaska, during a phone interview. “We are a busy bunch.”

The USPS has seen a 75% increase in its volume of holiday-time parcels since last year, Medeiros said. That is on top of a 50% increase in parcel volume in December over any other month.

“We’re definitely seeing an increase,” Medeiros said. “I feel like more people are ordering more packages in Alaska.”

Medeiros attributed the rising tide of packages to the popularity of businesses like Amazon, which make it convenient to shop for items online. Customers also use online shopping to obtain things that may be difficult to find in more rural places without physical storefronts.

“Our volume since beginning of December is more than 2 million packages,” Medeiros said. “The customers have taken advantage of online ordering.”

To compensate, Medeiros said, USPS has hired nearly 60 seasonal workers to take up the load as well as taking an “all hands on deck” approach, having administrative workers assist clerks and delivery personnel in the intake and output of packages.

“Everyone up here that can be spared is out helping to handle the traffic,” Medeiros said. “We take them into every small town, every small village in Alaska. We’re the last mile.”

Juneau is no exception. While Juneau postmaster Susan Johnson couldn’t be reached, she conveyed through Medeiros that USPS personnel in Juneau will be working extra hours to help families get their packages on time.

Hours and Deadlines

The Mendenhall Valley USPS office at 9491 Vintage Boulevard will be open from 6-8pm on Sunday, Dec. 22, to pick up packages that could not be delivered on the first attempt. Other stores may have extended pick-up hours as well; check with your local branch. All USPS offices will be open normal hours on Christmas Eve but closed on Christmas.

The last day for shipping first class mail and packages is Dec. 18.

The last day for shipping priority mail and packages is Dec. 19.

Last day for shipping Express mail and packages: December 21

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