Getting Christmas Delivered

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It’s that time of year.

    Christmas cards and packages are piling up, and nowhere more sothan in the back rooms of post offices around the country.

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    The holiday season brings with it the highest mail volume the U.S.Postal Service has to deal with. According to a USPS press release,the postal agency processes 551 million pieces of mail every day, anumber that increases to 589 million pieces a day during theholidays.

    Some big days are upcoming.

    The USPS estimates the busiest mailing day for holiday packageswill occur Dec. 16 and the busiest mailing day for holiday cards onDec. 20. On Dec. 20, the USPS says 801 million piece of mail willbe processed.

    In total, an estimated 16.5 billion cards, letters and packageswill be delivered between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

    But this year, the high holiday volume comes amidst USPS budgetdeficits and a total decline of postal volume.

    To stave off default, the postal service has proposed a number ofcutbacks, including an end to Saturday delivery and ending thepossibility of next-day delivery for first-class mail. The price ofa first-class stamp is set to increase from 44 cents to 45 centsJan. 22.

    The USPS receives no government funding and must operate out ofrevenue it generates.

    Brookhaven residents utilizing their local post offices this weekexpressed ambivalence about the proposed cuts.

    “Times are tough,” was a common refrain among thoseinterviewed.

    Overall, Kim Keene isn’t happy about the idea of service cuts.

    “I hate that,” she said. “Might slow the mail down.”

    However, Keene said she doesn’t really see an alternative for thepostal service.

    “You have to do what you have to do,” she said. “Everyone is havingto cut back.”

    Some local residents expressed a willingness to pay in order tomaintain the current level of post office services.

    “Personally I would just rather pay more,” said Tina Brister.

    Brister said a reduction in services would not affect her much, butshe would like access to the services if she needs them.

    “If I had to get something to my kids the next day, I would hatenot to be able to,” Brister said.

    Tammy Windham expressed concern about how the changes may affectlocal businesses.

    “Business wise, we mail out stuff all the time and documents haveto get there on time,” Windham said.

    Windham said she would rather pay a little bit more in order tokeep the current level of service.

    Cliff Brumfield, executive vice president of the chamber ofcommerce, doesn’t see increased service costs as a very effectiveway to maintain the postal service.

    “Any increase in cost has to be absorbed one way or another by abusiness and is ultimately passed on to the customer,” Brumfieldsaid.

    Brumfield said receiving bills from customers is the area in whichbusinesses would be most affected by a reduction in postalservices. However, he believes adjustments will be made withrelative ease.

    “A lot of that could be counteracted by people modifying theirpractices to fit the new postal schedule,” Brumfield said. “Wethink it would not be as drastic a change as it may appear. Itwould just be something they would need to react to.”