Johnson County mail services urge consumers to place online orders before holidays

Local mail workers are urging consumers to order holiday packages by November 30 because some larger retailers are experiencing delays.


Dimia Burrell

Mail trucks shown outside of the United States Postal Office in Iowa City on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021.

Madeleine Willis, News Reporter

As supply chain issues foreshadow a scramble to deliver holiday goods, Iowa City mail services are preparing for the holiday shipping rush.

Ben Barreras, assistant director for laundry, printing, and mailing services at the University of Iowa, said he saw the largest number of packages delivered to campus last month because of holiday ordering panic.

About 13,000 packages were sent out from campus mail last month, Barreras said. Out of the 13,000 packages, 11,500 were delivered to students. Barreras said the influx is because of Halloween or early shopping for the upcoming holiday seasons. 

On Oct. 1, the USPS slowed down the rate of its mail delivery, moving the expected delivery time for first-class mail from three days to five. Once the mail gets to campus, though, Barreras said it shouldn’t arrive any slower than usual.

“Slower mail is due to short staffing in the supply chains, this doesn’t apply to us because we are pretty consistent in the number of drivers we have,” he said. 

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Every day, six delivery drivers pick up the U.S. mail from USPS postal services. They sort the mail at the Mossman Services Building, Barreras said. 

On deliveries, the six delivery drivers also pick up packages to be sent out along their route. Barreras said they deliver more packages than they send out, but they still ship quite a few packages daily.

He said that campus mail is consistent in the number of drivers they have. He said campus mail is slowest in the months of May-July and December to mid-January while the students are away and begin to arrive again in mid-January. 

Some retail stores are moving up their order deadline, according to Reuters. Stores like Walmart and Target are offering early deals and alternative shipping and pick-up options. 

Joe Cox, owner of Mailboxes of Iowa City, a shipping and packaging store, said the delay could be due to the impact he has seen on the service industry with worker shortages. 

Cox said he knows the delivery system is much slower than it used to be pre-pandemic. He said retailers are experiencing delays in packages that are shipped out for customers.

For example, in some cases when packages would have been delayed one day, now the delay is three days or several days, he said. 

At Mailboxes of Iowa City, one of the slowest delivery times they saw was last year during the election. Postal services were swarmed with mail-in ballots and had to send them out as quickly as possible to help determine the results of the election. 

Cox said it’s beneficial to order packages earlier to ensure the proper delivery time. 

“Ordering by Nov. 30 sounds like it would make sense, stores have to process the orders and ship them out,” Cox said.