Mailing holiday presents? There's still time

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Waiting, waiting and waiting. That's the name of the game this week as we all scramble to send out our presents to loved ones scattered across the nation.

While the holidays are a big financial boost for the United States Postal Service, it does not completely offset the other months.

A decrease in foot traffic, less people mailing and free online shipping is taking away business.  The United States Postal Service is fighting an uphill battle.

"The volume may have decreased a little bit for us, but we still have the online services and the private companies that are bringing packages to us to deliver," says USPS Customer Service Manager, Gerry Mulligan.

Those private companies may ring a bell. How does Fedex and  UPS sound? With cutbacks across the industry, you might be surprised to hear they are paying the postal service to deliver some of their products. Mulligan says his carriers have to go to every single home every day, while these companies do not. With a smaller workforce, it saves them time and money to just drop it off at the post office and it brings in revenue to the struggling USPS.

One portion of the post office is known as the "Christmas Hub" and it's where every post office from Little River to Pawleys Island sends its priority mail packages. Before this hub was created, every package had to go from your post office to Florence and then Columbia. During the holidays, the process is streamlined, meaning the packages get to where they need to be two to three days faster.

"This section of the Carolina Forest Post Office is set up for dispatching packages out. As you can see we've set it up by zip codes, so if you send your packages by priority mail, we are sending them directly to the airport in Columbia," says Carolina Forest Post Office Customer Service Manager, Gerry Mulligan.

While the magic happens behind the scenes, it is out in the lobby where the action is. As folks lined up from the counter to the front door, they waited.

Some say they budgeted an hour in their schedule be in line, but were pleased when they got out the door in ten to fifteen minutes.

So what do you do to keep yourself busy waiting in line? How bout spreading a little Christmas cheer like one group of customers who ate up time by singing "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way."

When one of the singers is not singing tunes, he's cracking jokes about waiting in line.

"It keeps me in shape, from lifting and pulling and hauling and reaching for my wallet and paying.  It kind of keeps the muscles toned," says Ronald Kirby.

If you found yourself procrastinating a little bit more than normal this year, don't worry, there is still time.

The customer service manager at the Carolina Forest Post Office says he is 100 percent confident, as long as you send priority mail by this Saturday, those presents will make it under the tree just in time for Christmas.

Mulligan says with next week being the busiest delivery week, he is instructed all of his carriers to not leave any packages by your front door for fear of someone stealing it. He says if you are not home during delivery, you can come pick it up, or call and reschedule delivery for the next day.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All Rights Reserved.