Signed, sealed and delivered

Gift givers are heading to the post office a little earlier this year

By STEVE POWELL

Herald Writer

EVERETT — If lines seem a little longer at the post office this year, there’s a reason.

People learned their lesson last year.

In 1999, many folks ordering Christmas gifts off the Internet for the first time did so too late in the holiday season. Their orders didn’t get to their destination on time for Dec. 25.

But gift givers must have learned their lessons, as they seem to be ordering on the Internet and heading to the post office a little earlier this year.

"We are seeing parcels up compared to this time last year," said Louise Arstad, customer relations coordinator with the U.S. Postal Service’s district office in Seattle. "People are getting on the bandwagon a little earlier" to avoid last year’s shipping woes.

Arstad said folks ordering off the Internet at sites such as eBay, the online auction house, have increased parcel business for the postal service.

"It’s changed the way we do business," she said. "It’s been good for us."

As for sending Christmas cards, she said free cards available on the Internet have led to fewer people sending the seasonal greetings each year. She said she’s noticed a trend during the past 10 years.

"It’s hurt our business somewhat," she said of Internet cards.

Arstad said today (and next Monday are the busiest days of the year for the postal service.

That may be because today is the last recommended day for people to send mail to international addresses if they want to make sure it will arrive before Christmas. And it is best to mail to destinations inside the states by next Monday.

Arstad also said extra carriers have been hired to deliver packages to try to make sure customers get them before Christmas.

She said the postal service will do whatever it can to help customers. While it’s not recommended, some packages are sent in their Christmas wrapping. That’s OK, but sometimes the writing is hard to read.

"I’ve seen people write on the outside of coconuts and send tires through the mail," Arstad said.

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