Customers with arms full of packages, Christmas cards and other items to ship waited in lines of 15 to 20 people at the post office Monday, during the busiest mailing day of the year.
Lines are common this time of year, for both the post office counter and self-serve kiosks, officials said. But the goal is to keep those lines moving.
And even on the U.S. Postal Service’s busiest day of the year, most customers at post offices in Greenwood and Franklin were in and out in 10 minutes or less.
Greenwood resident Suzin Graybrook brought her stack of 200 Christmas cards to be mailed Monday. It took her about 15 to 20 minutes to place a stamp on each card but only about seven minutes in line to get the stamps she needed.
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To mail all of her holiday greetings, it cost her nearly double what she paid for the actual cards, she said. Out of those 200 cards, Graybrook needed six international stamps to send cards to her relatives in the Netherlands.
But the personal touch — down to handwriting every address on the front of the envelope — is worth it, she said.
“To me, there’s nothing better than getting a Christmas card in the mail,” Graybrook said.
The post office will be slammed with customers up until next week, Greenwood postmaster Christi Johnson-Kennedy said.
Until Dec. 23, the post office will be consistently busy with people sending last-minute cards and packages, she said. The peak times for customers to flock to the post office are right when the store opens, at lunch time and after work from 4 to 7 p.m., Johnson-Kennedy said.
At this time of the year, however, the post office is never typically slow, said Franklin post office supervisor Alvin Nation. Although there may be 10 or
15 minutes of downtime, the customer numbers are steady throughout the day, he said.
He remembers times trying to shut the door to close, and customers were still trying to get in, he said.
On Monday lines for the counter were 10 to 20 people deep, and at least five to six people waiting for self-service kiosks.
The Franklin post office keeps three employees in the lobby at all times through December to get people in and out quickly.
The Greenwood post office has a mobile point of sales employee who can sell stamps to people using a credit card or debit card, so they won’t need to wait in line with customers mailing packages. The post office started this service last year during the holiday season and brought it back this year. In the last week, the point of sales employee has been selling between $800 to $1,000 worth of stamps per day, Johnson-Kennedy said.
Customers should expect Christmas cards to take up to seven days to get delivered in the United States, Nation said. Since it is the holiday season and people can send as many as 350 Christmas cards at once — as Johnson-Kennedy saw yesterday — the mail might take longer to get from one destination to another, officials said.
An estimated 640 million cards were sorted yesterday, according to a news release from the Postal Service.
As for packages, so many are sent at this time of year that some carriers are delivering packages only during the day, starting at 6:30 a.m., Johnson-Kennedy said.
For domestic mail through the United States Postal Service, the busiest day for sending or shipping mail and packages was yesterday. If you missed that deadline, here are some other dates to ensure that packages or mail will arrive by Christmas:
Saturday – First Class Mail and Priority Mail
Dec. 23 – Priority Express Mail, which will be delivered on Christmas day
For items sent to Europe, Australia or Asia, the deadline is Wednesday. Items to Canada can be sent as late as Friday for people to receive it by Christmas.