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Wrapping it up
Shipping deadline dawns for Christmas presents
UPS Ships 2 es
Vicki and David Wallace help customers as a line forms Tuesday afternoon at the counter of the UPS store in Cumming's Lakeland Plaza. The shipping deadline for Christmas presents has arrived. - photo by Emily Saunders

It may not pay to ship holiday gifts early, but it certainly costs to ship them late.

Anyone shipping packages next week can expect to pay at least $12 to ensure they arrive by Christmas.

“A 10-pound, regular-sized box, ground, you can ship for $14 or $15. But if you waited until the last minute to ship it, that same box could easily cost $75,” said David Wallace, owner of the UPS Store at the Lakeland Plaza.

For presents being sent to the West Coast, it may be too late to guarantee a package shipped via standard UPS ground service will arrive by Christmas.

Standard ground service takes five to six days, said Wallace, who suggested two or three-day air service for West Coast packages. Beginning next week, second-day and overnight services will be the only way to ship gifts and still get them in before Christmas.

Customers aren’t fond of spending extra money to ship last minute, “but they understand it,” said Wallace, adding that shipping can become a balance of too soon versus too late.

“When you’re shipping presents, you don’t really want your presents to be arriving there two or three weeks in advance,” he said. “You want it to be there when they’ve got their Christmas tree up and they open them up and put them under the tree.”

As long as packages are dropped off before 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wallace said gifts sent via overnight service will get there before Christmas morning.

Similar rules apply at Pak Mail on Bethelview Road.

Co-owner Barbara McClure said today is the last day for ground shipping, though packages dropped off by 6 p.m. Tuesday still can make it to their destination by Christmas.

McClure said Pak Mail works with UPS, FedEx, DHL and other shipping services to offer a range of prices.

“Sometimes FedEx is cheaper, sometimes UPS is cheaper, sometimes DHL is cheaper. You just don’t know,” she said. “We tell them what the prices are and they pick [the service].”

The U.S. Postal Service in Cumming will be open until 4 p.m. Christmas Eve. Next-day service is available for an additional fee, and will be shipped before 3 p.m. on Christmas Day.

Postmaster Anne Berger said gifts sent via the post office’s priority service, which usually ships in two to three days, will arrive by Christmas through the week.

But beginning Monday, next-day express service will be the only reliable shipping method to ensure gifts get there on time.

Regardless of how a package is sent, Berger recommends spending extra money on delivery confirmation for peace of mind.

“We also have an automated postal center in the lobby which uses credit and debit,” she said. “The door to the lobby is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and you can mail package and letters.”