The United States Postal Service announced its shipping deadlines for holiday cards and gifts, recommendations that come during an especially turbulent shopping season.
According to the USPS website, ground shipments of packages within the contiguous US (which includes all states except for Hawaii and Alaska) must be sent by December 15 to ensure they arrive by Christmas. Alternative options include using first-class mail, priority mail, or priority mail express services, which must be processed by December 17, 18, and 23, respectively.
Individuals shipping to Alaska by ground must do so by December 2, or else send via first-class service by December 18, while those sending to Hawaii are recommended to postmark first-class packages by December 17.
This year's deadlines come amid an ongoing supply chain crisis which has caused severe bottlenecks at major US ports and led to delayed shipments, product shortages, and widespread inflation. Jams at ports in Southern California have left some ships stuck for upwards of two months as they wait to dock and unload.
The backlogs have had an impact on many retailers leading into this holiday season, including Victoria's Secret, which anticipates that 45% of its fall inventory is currently stuck at sea. In September, data compiled by Freightos found that shipments were taking 83% longer than they had at the same time in pre-pandemic 2019.
Still, USPS said earlier this month that it is prepared for the busy holiday season and this year's particular challenges, stating that is has made several key investments to ensure that all holiday shipments arrive on time.
"We've accelerated key processing, logistics and delivery investments to support higher volumes delivery demands during the holidays and ensure cards, letters and packages arrive on time," USPS said in a statement on November 18. "Our advice to consumers this holiday remains the same as always: Plan ahead and mail early, particularly when shipping long distance."
In August, USPS announced it would implement temporary price hikes for holiday shipments beginning October 3 and ending December 26. The increases range from $0.75 to $5 depending on weight and shipping zone.
"This temporary rate adjustment is similar to one in 2020 that anticipated heightened peak-season package and shipping demand, which typically results in extra handling costs," USPS wrote in a press release.