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INDIANAPOLIS — The United States Postal Service is getting ready for another busy holiday delivery season, and recent changes may impact how you approach getting your items delivered on time.

Between online shopping, holiday cards, and mailing packages, the USPS keeps busy around the holiday.

In 2020, the USPS says package delivery grew nearly 48%, driven by the surge in online shopping and e-commerce due to the COVID pandemic.

This year, the USPS projects 12 billion-plus letters, cards and packages will be processed and delivered between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

The United States Postal Service shared a list of holiday shipping deadlines to make sure your loved ones receive their gifts on time. For domestic delivery before December 25, get your packages out by:

  • USPS retail ground service: Dec. 15
  • First-class mail service: Dec. 17
  • Priority mail service: Dec. 18
  • Priority mail express service: Dec. 23

If you’re sending gifts overseas, your deadlines will be much sooner. Most of the deadlines for the different delivery options land between Nov. 29-Dec. 13. You can confirm shipping deadlines for specific destinations here.

Impact of mail slowdown

In August, the USPS finalized a plan to slow down some of its mail delivery in an effort to cut costs and provide more reliable service. That plan went into effect on October 1 and changes its standard timeframe for delivering first-class letters, flat envelopes and periodicals.

The benchmark went go from a one-to-three-day window to a one-to-five-day window for mail sent within the contiguous United States. For first-class mail coming from the contiguous U.S. and going to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or other U.S. territories (or vice versa), the standard will be four to five days.

After the change went into effect, the USPS says on-time delivery rates increased for first-class mail and periodicals, while remaining consistent with marketing materials.

  • First-Class Mail: 91.1 percent of First-Class Mail delivered on time against the USPS service standard, an improvement of 2.6 percentage points from the fourth quarter.
  • Marketing Mail: 92.4 percent of Marketing Mail delivered on time against the USPS service standard, consistent with performance from the fourth quarter.
  • Periodicals: 83.2 percent of Periodicals delivered on time against the USPS service standard, an improvement of .5 percentage points from the fourth quarter.

Susan Wright, a spokesperson for USPS in the Indianapolis district, says the service standard change won’t impact the majority of the mail.

“Because we’re moving to ground transportation, so it will be more reliable and it will be less expensive for us to operate, so we could offer those savings to our customers,” Wright said.

Planning for improvement

The USPS is working on improving the time it takes from mailing to delivery. As a part of the Postmaster General’s 10-year Delivering For America plan, the Postal Service is investing $40 billion through increased hiring, installing high-speed processing equipment, and adding more space to accommodate mail and packages.

Since April, USPS has installed 102 new package sorting machines. This includes an Installation in Greenwood. The machine reads the label on the package and sends it into the bin that it needs to go into. They also have another system that acts like Roombas, transporting packages into the containers they need to go into.

The USPS is also participating in a national drive to hire delivery and plant personnel. In Indiana, the USPS hosted a job fair Thursday to fill various positions offering up to $19.06 an hour.

“Our hiring events have been very popular all this Fall,” Wright said. “If anyone is interested in postal positions, we encourage them to look online at Check often because jobs are posted all the time, so if you don’t see something that appeals to you when you look one time, you can check back and there.”