AMMON – With a nationwide labor shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the holiday shopping season quickly approaching, the Postal Service and local shipping companies are gearing up for an exceptionally busy year.
Dane Croft, owner of Ship Pro in Ammon, told EastIdahoNews.com that those waiting until Black Friday to start Christmas shopping online may experience a delivery delay. To make sure packages arrive on time, he encourages you to start now.
âOur drivers are amazing and they work all day everyday and especially during the Christmas season. But it’s an anomaly, âCroft says. “This year is probably not the best year to procrastinate (online vacation shopping).”
Recommended shipping dates for prompt delivery vary by carrier. The recommended date for the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx is Dec.15 for locations in the continental United States, according to CBS News.
Croft says it’s several days earlier than last year, but “my gut tells me it’s still not enough.”
âThey always quote overnight, today and three day (delivery) Xpress services as if they would get there (as advertised); however, they have waived all guarantees in this regard. This year it will be so much better to play it safe (and order your packages early), âsaid Croft.
Croft says the number of people shopping online during the 2020 holiday season was unprecedented due to the pandemic. Package volumes exploded as there was a new demographic of online shoppers.
The increase in online orders has resulted in massive delays.
âIt was to the point where FedEx and UPS were behind schedule. In some areas, the Post still delivered Christmas deliveries in April or May. So it took months for the post to catch up, âsays Croft.
Along with this, many employees contracted COVID-19 and were not available. Letter carriers hire temporary workers every year to deal with the Christmas rush, and widespread employee unavailability has added to the delays.
Earlier this year, the USPS announced it would be implementing new service standards as part of a 10-year plan to make mail delivery “more competitive and modern.” Among the changes are increased delivery of first-class mail and reduced office hours across the country.
“He also calls for lowering expectations for delivery times, which he notes the system has failed to meet” in the past eight years, “” CNN reported in March. âHe proposed changing the standard for first class letters and apartments to a five day standard from a three day standard. The Postal Service said under the plan, it expects to deliver around 70% of first-class mail within three days.
Croft says he’s noticed packages to Oregon that normally take two days now take three or four days to arrive.
The Postal Service launched a campaign in January to hire 100,000 workers in 2021. Croft says UPS and FedEx plan to hire 200,000 workers together just for the holiday season. He estimates that about 200 jobs will be available in eastern Idaho.
In previous years, the peak hiring season for the Postal Service has typically been somewhere between November 9 and a few days after New Years. Considering everything that has happened over the past 18 years. month, this year’s peak season is expected to last from November 7 to March 26.
âThe carriers are all still very capable, but they’re just going to be loaded. This year, you’ll see UPS and FedEx drivers going out up to 10 hours (or later) to handle the load, âsays Croft. âOur job is to make sure the packages arrive on time, but it’s going to take (everyone we can get to make it happen this year). “
If you’re looking for seasonal work, the good news is that the Postal Service adopted a fast-track hiring process in 2019, which means the hiring process is faster and easier. If you are able to lift light loads and get on and off a UPS truck all day, there is likely a position available for you.