PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service pulled out all the stops to avoid a repeat of the 2020 holiday maritime disaster, and it worked.
The Postal Service and several other private shippers have reported that deliveries over the holiday season have generally gone smoothly.
ShipMatrix, which analyzes shipping package data, reported that 96.9% of Postal Service shipments were on time during a two-week period in December. Overall this is a major improvement across the board from last year when more than a third of first class mail was late when Christmas arrived.
“We’re happy to have brought in all the holiday cheer we could,” said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, which represents more than 200,000 postal workers.
Ahead of the holidays, there were severe warnings about supply chain issues and shipping delays. Ultimately, shoppers heeded supply chain warnings by ordering and shipping items earlier, while more people chose to shop in stores than a year earlier, said Satish Jindel, president of ShipMatrix in Pennsylvania.
The Postal Service has installed 112 new package sorting machines, transferred more than 60,000 pre-career employees to career ranks, hired 40,000 seasonal employees and leased additional space in more than 100 locations since l last year, officials said.
As a bonus, the number of postal workers quarantined was lower than last year, although they are trending up.
With new standards that extended the turnaround time for some long-distance couriers, the service reported that 89.8% of first-class packages were delivered on time in the first 12 weeks of the quarter, and forecast 12 billion Mail and parcels would be delivered between Thanksgiving. and New Year’s Day.
During the Dec. 12-21 period, UPS and FedEx also recorded on-time delivery rates exceeding 90%, Jindel said. They, too, have bolstered their workforces, hiring more than 190,000 additional workers to better prepare for the holiday peak.
For the U.S. Postal Service, about 6,500 postal workers were under COVID-19 quarantine on Christmas Eve, which was better than the previous year when 19,000 workers were absent at the December peak, according to the American Postal Workers Union.
But these numbers are growing. This week, the number of quarantined workers rose to nearly 8,000, the union said.
Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said hurdles like the pandemic and quarantines pose staffing challenges, but “they don’t change the mission.”
The U.S. Postal Service declined to comment on the quarantine numbers, but “we can assure you that the Postal Service has resources in place, including adequate staff, to meet the service needs of our customers now and in the future. ‘future,’ the spokesperson said. Kim Frum.
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