2023 has been another year with a tremendous amount of scrutiny on the USPS and its ability to process huge volumes of mail. Savvy marketers are focusing on holiday season direct mail scheduling in order to execute on critical promotions, donations and other communications.
There’s been a ton of news surrounding the new first-class service standards that, for some addresses, add 2-3 days to the delivery timeline. A much bigger issue for marketers around the holiday season is that with the surge in volumes that start after Thanksgiving, holiday season direct mail delivery from the USPS tends to slow down.
Postalytics customers are easily adapting to potential slowdowns. Our advanced 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.
Table of contents
- 2023/2024 USPS Holiday Season Direct Mail Days Off
- Give Yourself A Buffer — Add Time To Your Schedule
- What Impacts Holiday Season Direct Mail Delivery?
- First Class Direct Mail Holiday Season Planning
- Standard Class Mail Holiday Season Planning
- Holiday Season Direct Mail Questions?
2023/2024 USPS Holiday Season Direct Mail Days Off
In addition to a massive spike in the mail and package delivery volume, there are also several days that the USPS is completely closed for business. As we head into 2024, here’s a list of key dates to consider for your holiday season direct mail delivery planning:
|Saturday 11/12/23||Veterans Day|
|Thursday 11/23/23||Thanksgiving Day|
|Monday 12/25/23||Christmas Day Observed|
|Monday 1/1/24||New Year’s Day Observed|
|Monday 1/15/24||Martin Luther King Jr. birthday|
|Monday 2/19/24||President’s Day|
|Monday 5/27/24||Memorial Day|
|Wednesday 6/19/24||Juneteenth National Independence Day|
|Thursday 7/4/24||Independence Day|
|Monday 9/2/24||Labor Day|
|Monday 10/14/24||Columbus/Indigenous Peoples’ Day|
|Monday 11/11/24||Veterans Day|
|Thursday 11/28/24||Thanksgiving Day|
|Wednesday 12/25/24||Christmas Day|
While the amount of time direct mail spent in the delivery process can increase, with a little planning, savvy marketers can work around most USPS seasonal slowdowns.
Give Yourself A Buffer — Add Time To Your Schedule
Last holiday seasons (2022), the USPS improved their mail delivery efficiency compared with the previous 2 years, where they had a very difficult time handling the surge in package volume that led to issues in delivering direct mail. That being said, there are still slowdowns and issues that will arise due to staffing and equipment issues, especially with standard class or marketing mail.
Last year, most of our first-class customers had their mail delivered within the expected time frame, a few of our customers had standard-class mailers “stuck” at USPS distribution facilities for several weeks.
Some of the factors that led to such severe standard class delays in past years will most likely be less of a factor this year. While global shipping and mailing volumes will be much higher as they are every season, pandemic and supply chain issues are not nearly as significant as in recent years. And, the USPS has been investing heavily in staffing and equipment as a part of the “Delivering for America” plan that is being rolled out.
There’s no way that we know for sure how these might impact the mail delivery process, and we recommend adding a few more days into your planning to ensure your mailers are delivered on time. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to things that are outside of our control.
The most important thing to understand is 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 12/25/23:
- Postalytics Recommends Sending First Class Campaigns No Later Than December 11th
- Postalytics Recommends Sending Standard Class Campaigns No Later Than November 30th
As a rule of thumb, plan roughly 3 weeks for standard class mail and 2 weeks for first-class mail campaigns for the bulk of the mail to be delivered. You’ll probably find that there will be an increase in variability of mail delivery dates due to local USPS issues in various locations around the country.
Mail Delivery Thanksgiving Week
Thanksgiving is a federal holiday, which means that USPS will be closed on Thursday, November 23rd.
If you’re wondering whether mail delivery is resuming the day after Thanksgiving, then the answer is yes.
The United States Postal Service plans to run both ground and air services during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. Keep in mind that the volume of mail usually skyrockets during these times. Higher volumes usually mean higher processing times. USPS employees will have a lot on their hands during Thanksgiving week.
If you’re sending a direct mail campaign targeting any of these shopping days, we’d recommend sending it at least 10 days earlier to stay ahead of potential delays.
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 at 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 USPS during the holiday season. Some estimates call for up to a 12.8% 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 Season 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 do its best to deliver first-class mail within the standard timeline, slowdowns inevitably occur. The week of December 18th-23rd 2023 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 11th For Delivery Before Christmas
Standard Class Mail Holiday Season 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 are 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 November 30th for Delivery Before Christmas
Standard Class mail that gets caught in the holiday season surge CAN be delivered in a close to normal time frame, but it also can be significantly delayed. In 2022, we did have a few customers with standard mail sent in mid-December that ended up delivered in mid January. We recommend getting out ahead of other mailers – do not wait!
Holiday Season Direct Mail 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!