2020 has been a year with a tremendous amount of scrutiny on the USPS and its ability to process huge volumes of mail. Despite all of the news surrounding the election, mailed ballots represented a tiny fraction of total USPS volume. A much bigger issue for marketers is that with the massive increase in volumes that start after Thanksgiving, holiday season direct mail delivery from the USPS tends to slow down.
Postalytics customers are easily adapting to the potential slowdowns. Our advance scheduling tools and incredible time savings we offer compared to traditional direct mail enable our customers to maximize the ROI of their mailings, regardless of the time of the year.
USPS Holiday Season Days Off
In addition to a massive spike in mail and package delivery volume, there are also several days in November, December and January that the USPS is completely closed for business. Here’s a list of key dates to consider for your holiday season direct mail delivery planning:
- Wednesday, November 11th (Veterans Day)
- Thursday, November 26th (Thanksgiving Day)
- Friday, December 25th (Christmas Day)
- Friday, January 1st (New Years Day)
While the amount of time direct mail spent in delivery can increase, with a little planning, savvy marketers can work around most USPS seasonal slowdowns.
Give Yourself A Buffer — Add A Few Days To Your Schedule
For the most part the USPS did a great job delivering on time during the 2019 holiday season. We saw a few mailings get delayed, but the vast majority went through with normal timing (especially first class mailers).
There are some new factors that could delay the mail a bit more in 2020 — namely the global pandemic and the incredible increase in ecommerce delivery that the USPS is already experiencing. While there’s no way that we know for sure how these might impact the mail delivery process, we recommend building a few more days into your planning to ensure you mailers are delivered on time.
The most important thing to understand are the differences in the way that the USPS treats their mail classes. Standard mail can be impacted by the holidays significantly, while first class mail tends to be less affected. Due to holiday season direct mail delivery slowdowns, we see more customers choosing first class than normal during this time of the year.
To be certain your mail is delivered before 12/25/20:
Postalytics Recommends Sending First Class Campaigns No Later Than December 14th
Postalytics Recommends Sending Standard Class Campaigns No Later Than December 7th
What Impacts Holiday Season Direct Mail Delivery?
Several factors are coming together to stress the USPS holiday season direct mail delivery system. All told, the USPS will deliver about 15 billion pieces of mail and about 800 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
While we know fewer folks are sending personal notes and letters through the mail than in the past, holiday season greeting cards are still incredibly popular. In fact, about 1.5 billion holiday greeting cards are sold every year, representing roughly 60% of all cards sold. Most of these are dropped in the mail, with the hope they’ll be delivered prior to Christmas.
With the massive spending that occurs during the biggest retail season of the year, companies that send catalogs are incredibly active. Most of the catalogers hope to have their books in home the week after Thanksgiving, as their mailing for the last big holiday push.
With e-commerce sales continuing to skyrocket, package delivery becomes a massive priority for the USPS during the holiday season. Some estimates call for up to a 33% jump in e-commerce sales again this year. Starting the week of December 10th, the USPS expects to deliver 200 million packages per week through Christmas. Immediately after Christmas, returns kick in.
First Class Direct Mail Holiday Planning
First Class direct mail is the top priority for the USPS, and the holiday season spike in volume accentuates the delivery differences between first and standard class mail. For this reason, we recommend using the Postalytics First Class option for holiday season direct mail.
While the USPS will make its best efforts to delivery first class mail within the standard timeline, slowdowns inevitably occur. The week of December 14-21st is incredibly busy for first class mail, due to those holiday greeting cards, with the expectation that 3 billion pieces of first class mail will be delivered.
Postalytics Recommends First Class Mailing No Later Than December 14th For Delivery Before Christmas
Standard Class Mail Holiday Planning
Standard Class mail is dealt with by the USPS after First Class and Parcel deliveries. It is more likely to be delayed when regional or local surges happen and when there’s equipment problems anywhere in the supply chain. As the USPS prepares for the massive spike in First Class and Parcel delivery, holiday season direct mail sent via standard class suffers.
Postalytics Recommends Standard Class Mailing No Later Than December 7th For Delivery Before Christmas
Standard Class mail that gets caught in the holiday season surge CAN be delivered on a close to normal time-frame, but it also can be significantly delayed. There are stories of standard mail sent in mid December that ends up delivered in late January.
Holiday Season Questions?
If you’d like to speak with one of our experts about your holiday season direct mail delivery strategy, we’d love to hear from you!