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Holiday mail shipping 2021: Deadlines, delays and what you need to know

Sara Yonker

October 11, 2021

In San Antonio (where Earth Class Mail is), it’s barely gotten cool enough to break out our jackets yet. Still, we’re already thinking about holiday shopping- or more specifically, holiday shipping.

Most people in the U.S. have increasingly relied on online shopping for gifts and everyday essentials - and that's more true around the holidays when we’re not only buying gifts for holidays like Christmas and Hannakuah, but also buying items to spruce up our homes before holiday visitors, buying new clothes before having those family portraits shot, or ordering thank-you gifts for your business.

Holiday mail 

This year, the busiest shopping time of year and the busiest shipping season coincides with a new slowdown in the standards for how fast the United States Postal Service promises to deliver mail, postage rate price increases, and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year plan taking effect.

Holiday shipping deadlines 2021

In 2020, the postal service delivered more than a billion packages. As more shoppers turn to online shopping, the burden on our postal service each holiday shopping season gets heavier. 

That means every online retailer will have its own deadlines and every shipping method its own deadlines to get your packages delivered in time for the holidays.

Need package delivery by Christmas? 

For packages to arrive by Christmas, here’s a quick cheat sheet:

FedEx

  • FedEx Ground Economy: Dec. 9

  • FedEx Ground Shipping: Dec. 12

  • FedEX Express Saver: Dec. 21

  • FedEx 2 day and overnight options: Not expected to be affected

UPS 

  • UPS Ground Shipping: Dec. 16

  • UPS Next Day Air and 2nd Day Air: Dec. 18

  • UPS 3-Day Select: Dec. 19

USPS

  • Retail Ground Shipping: Dec. 15

  • Media Mail: Dec. 16

  • First Class Mail: Dec. 18

  • Priority Mail: Dec. 19

Keep in mind that these are deadlines, but there can always be unexpected delays - especially during winter months when ice and snowstorms can close roads. If you need something by Christmas Day, it might be wise to plan for delivery by Dec. 22 or Dec. 23 instead of expecting last-minute delivery services on Christmas Eve. 

Retailers expected supply chain issues this holiday season

When the worldwide economy grinds to a halt, it can be difficult to jump back into full gear. It turns out, those early 2020 toilet paper shortages were just the beginning. 

If you’ve shopped for certain commodities in the last year, you might have heard about supply chain issues that started with COVID shutdowns in production facilities worldwide. We’re still feeling those ripple effects in the marketplace as the economy struggles to reopen in its full strength, causing delays in production of everything from furniture to construction materials.

The production of crucial microchips that go into vehicles  were delayed so much so that Toyota, despite unprecedented demand for its cars amid a national car shortage, had to cut back production of its vehicles by 40% because it didn’t have the parts needed to complete the work. 

So what does that mean for holiday gifts? Shop early and expect to wait. 

Toys: Mega toy manufacturers like Hasbro have had trouble getting inventory into the United States, facing up to 6-week delays over their normal shipping times, according to CNN. Whether that corrects itself in the coming months is uncertain, but for now, parents and grandparents shopping for children may need to come up with alternatives. 

Imported goods: Goods imported from China - which often includes the majority of electronics and consumer goods on many people’s wish lists - face a backlog in U.S. ports that has caused widespread problems. Big box retailers such as Target, Costco, and Home Depot tried to reduce these logistical issues by chartering their own cargo ships. 

What does this mean for your virtual mailbox?

Earth Class Mail sees a spike in mail volumes each December. We plan for this increase and make an effort so that customers don’t experience any disruptions or delays in service. 

We will continue to monitor USPS’ changes in delivery speed standards. While we can’t control how soon we receive your mail, we are always working to process your items faster and deliver the best service possible for our customers. 

Holiday shipping: Many of our customers, including those who live overseas, order items sent to their Earth Class Mail address and have the packages forwarded to where they live.

If you plan to do this for any holiday gifts, we recommend including a few days of extra processing time this holiday season. The combination of postal delays, the busy season, and the global supply shortage could mean that your items take longer to get to you than they normally would.

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