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The package push
There’s still time to get gifts there
Mike Moore, above, helps wife Lesa tape a Christmas package while standing in the long holiday line Tuesday at the Cumming Post Office. Officials say time is running out to mail packages without extra cost. - photo by Autumn McBride

Time is running out for inexpensive ways to ship Christmas gifts before the holiday.

While it’s possible to send a present overnight for Christmas Day delivery, the cost to do so may well exceed the price of the item.

The U.S. Postal Service charges about $5 to send a small 10-pound box via priority mail. Come Dec. 24, that same 10-pound box will cost $73 for next-day delivery.

At the UPS Store, a package that would typically cost $18 to ship to the West Coast using next-day service “takes it up to like $95 and $65 for second-day air,” said owner Gene Allen. “But we’ll be covered up on [Dec.] 22nd and 23rd with people doing that.”

UPS doesn’t deliver on Christmas Day, but the steady flow of customers could indicate more people are planning ahead this year.

“[Monday and Tuesday] were the two busiest shipping days of the year,” Allen said. “We’ll send out about 1,000 packages per store this week.

“That’s averaging about 200 packages a day, and on a normal day during any other time of year we might do say 60. So, it’s about triple normal volume.”

Allen, who owns the UPS locations in Cruse Marketplace and on Bethelview Road, said the stores also offer assistance in packing gifts for delivery, as well as supplies for those wanting to do it themselves.

“We’re a one-stop shop that can handle many of our customers’ holiday logistics,” he said.

At the Post Office in Cumming, Postmaster Anne Berger said two staff members are posted at the lobby to assist customers “so they can get in and out rather quickly.”

There will always be those who send their presents well in advance, just as there “are always those procrastinators that are thinking they have the time, but then they realize that time is now,” Berger said.

For them, there’s express mail, which delivers overnight and on Christmas Day.

For people who haven’t mailed their gifts by Friday, Berger recommended sending packages via priority mail, which ships within three days.

“Priority mail flat rate boxes are an excellent value,” she said.

As long as gifts can fit inside the box, the price stays the same, regardless of weight.

“It’s a very hectic time, but at least it’s a good time,” she said. “It’s good for business and it makes us feel good that we know we still have people that support us.”