CLEVELAND - Monday marked the busiest mailing day for the U.S. Postal Service when more than 655 million pieces of mail were expected to be processed ahead of Christmas next week. That's about a million more than an average day.
"We do make sure we're prepared for it, and it's going rather smoothly," said USPS spokesman David Van Allen at Cleveland's main post office downtown.
Van Allen added that the post office adds more staff on the busiest day each year to accommodate more customers.
"The line seems to be going very quickly," said postal customer Blanca Figueroa who mailed two boxes of toys and clothes to her nephews in California Monday afternoon.
Figueroa didn't expect to ship her packages as late as Monday. "I swore I was going to do this over the weekend, but it caught up on me," she added.
But she waited only about four minutes in line.
"They're moving pretty fast. They're pretty efficient," said Larry Bailey who shipped a box full of toys and clothes to his son in Arkansas Monday.
But time is running out. The last day to mail first-class packages is Thursday.
"You have to mail early, mail early, mail early because it's more important that it gets there on time than if you wait a couple of minutes," Van Allen said.
Mailing early is even more important this year because the Postal Service predicts a record 20 percent increase in shipping packages this holiday season.
"If it was me, I'd be here sooner. But my kids procrastinated," said postal customer Anna Bell. Bell shipped two boxes to her children in Mexico and Maryland Monday after they sent her late Christmas lists.
To ensure packages arrive safely and on time, the Postal Service recommends including a return address, using a sturdy box and reinforced tape, removing or marking out any conflicting address information and printing the destination address in all caps.