Post offices in Duluth see increased holiday workload due to COVID-19
The influx of mail and packages this holiday season has caused post offices around the city to see long lines that stretch out the doors.
Due to COVID-19, there has been an increase in online shopping to avoid stores, and more people are deciding to be safe and stay home instead of gathering in groups over the holidays.
Those trends have made it an extra-busy time of year for the United States Postal Service.
“We have staff working as early as five in the morning coming in and taking some of the larger parcels out to help alleviate some of the volumes for the regular routes,” said Eric Pohl, acting manager of customer service for the main post office in Duluth as well as the Mount Royal branch.
Pohl said carriers are also working later than usual to deliver packages.
“They’re working anywhere from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., so a lot of the work is done in the dark and that is obviously our biggest safety concern,” Pohl said. “So one thing folks can do to help us out is to leave their lights on so those carriers can access their houses safely.”
Pohl said leaving outside lights on also helps carriers see the house numbers.
The influx of mail and packages this holiday season has also caused post offices around the city to see long lines that stretch out the doors.
On Wednesday morning, six people were lined up at the postal station in Duluth’s Lakeside neighborhood waiting for it to open at 8:30 a.m. There have been times throughout the week that the line has extended to Marshall Hardware, about 25 yards away.
Pohl offered some tips for people to avoid lines at the post office and even help out their clerks. The best tip is to use services at usps.com .
“If you are able to use the ‘click-n-ship’ feature on our website, that will definitely save you some time from standing in line,” Pohl said.
Click-n-ship allows customers to print off their own shipping labels and pay for them through the website. Customers who use this function can just drop off a package instead of waiting in line to pay for the shipping cost.
Pohl said at some local post offices, such as the Mount Royal and Miller Hill locations, they’ve begun putting postal workers at the front doors and in lobbies to take packages that are already paid for and to answer any customer questions.
Pohl also suggested customers visit branches that don’t have as much foot traffic, such as the one in Duluth’s Spirit Valley neighborhood or Proctor. He also suggested people visit the main office at 2800 W. Michigan St., which now has extended hours and is open until 3 p.m. on Saturdays and is even open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday through Christmas.
Deadlines for delivery before Christmas are coming up. USPS suggests the last day for first-class mail services to be used is Friday and priority mail — two to three-day shipping — be used by Saturday. After Saturday through Dec. 23, priority mail express — one- to two-day shipping — may be required for packages to be delivered by Christmas.
“We have a good plan in place here to ensure everything we get in is going out every day and getting those packages out as quickly as they’re coming in,” Pohl said. “Folks who are expecting those packages can be confident that we’re going to get those out to them as quickly as we can.”