Published 8:48 pm Saturday, December 12, 2015

Photo by Kaitlin Mullins / Brookhaven Wedding and Party employees say as online shopping increases the number of returns they receive has increased.

Photo by Kaitlin Mullins / Brookhaven Wedding and Party employees say as online shopping increases the number of returns they receive has increased.

Holiday sales are expected to increase 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Many of those sales will be handled online.

And that means shoppers’ homes will be filled with boxes. But not everything that arrives will make it under the tree. Some will be returned, either because it’s the wrong size, the item was broken or the customer just decided not to keep it.

That’s where Brookhaven Wedding and Party takes over. The business on Highway 51 beside Brookhaven Rent-All, serves as Brookhaven’s UPS and FedEx drop-off location.

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Brookhaven Wedding and Party employee Ali Benson said the store has been an authorized UPS shipping center for 17 years. It also serves as a FedEx drop-off location, but only FedEx Express. There are several FedEx drop boxes around town.

Benson said more people are using UPS by far, yet the UPS store that was in Brookhaven about three or four years ago closed its doors. Benson said because of the cost of operation, rates were more expensive at the UPS store compared to the shipping center within the Brookhaven wedding/party rental store.

This time of year, Benson said, there is an awful lot more foot traffic in the store and the stacks of packages grow taller. One might think the small operation would be inundated with parcels to be shipped, but Benson said the store doesn’t struggle with the influx.

“The majority of the increase is simply the returns, so we don’t process those and those come in already labeled,” Benson said. “There are more people coming in and out, but it’s no strain on us either.”

But the returns have increased quite a bit. Online retailers offering free shipping and returns coupled with the ease and popularity of shopping online has meant a drastic rise in shipping activity around the holidays. It has become so easy to send gifts, meaning there is a lot of shopping, gifting and shipping going on.


Holiday deadlines

Some gifts will be sent on to family and friends in other towns, states and countries to be opened on Christmas Day. But not if they aren’t shipped on time.

For those using the United States Postal Service, send packages by the following dates for expected delivery by Dec. 24: Dec. 15 for standard post service; Dec. 19 for first-class mail service; Dec. 21 for priority mail service and Dec. 23 for priority mail express service.

Dec. 21 is the last day to ship with FedEx Express in order for a parcel to reach its destination by Dec. 25. There are no centers that ship FedEx ground in Brookhaven, so check the FedEx.com website for more info.

FedEx predicts it will move a record-breaking 317 million shipments between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. This forecast marks a 12.4 percent increase in year-over-year seasonal volume.

Until Dec. 30, a limited number of UPS Ground and UPS Standard packages, with transit times of three or more days and with specific origins and destinations, will require an additional day in transit. All UPS 2nd Day Air and UPS 3 Day Select packages tendered Dec. 21 will require an additional day in transit. The most up-to-date time in transit details will be available at ups.com/ctc at the time of shipping.

UPS plans to deliver about 36 million packages on Dec. 22, up from 35 million last year, and double the normal daily average of 18 million deliveries. Since Christmas falls on Friday this year UPS plans for high daily residential delivery volume throughout the week. The company expects to make a record number of deliveries to residential addresses during the holiday period, up to 60 percent of all package deliveries, versus an average of 45 percent on a full-year basis. See the sidebar for UPS holiday dates.


Protect your presents

With all of these purchases and deliveries it is important to be mindful about the threat of theft. Brookhaven Police Department Capt. David Johnson said there isn’t a significant increase in reports of people’s packages being stolen when left on a porch, doorstop or otherwise visible — though it is something to avoid.

“Some people have stuff shipped to work if their employers allow it,” Johnson said, “or try to make arrangements with delivery times.”

Johnson said sometimes a postal carrier is able to deliver at a specific time that’s best for the customer. Sometimes customers can request that the carrier leave a package in a non-visible place such as a garage. Johnson said hiding packages is a must to avoid theft. This is especially important after Christmas.

“Don’t place the box for your new flat-screen TV or laptop by the street for trash. That shows people what you got for Christmas and what they could possibly steal,” Johnson said.

Johnson urges people to take a few more minutes to put big-ticket item boxes in plastic bags before putting them beside the street.