2022 Holiday Season Direct Mail Delivery Scheduling

2022 has been another year with a tremendous amount of scrutiny on the USPS and its ability to process huge volumes of mail.

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.

As seen in the latest print-on-demand eCommerce stats, the eCommerce market grew so fast that it created additional challenges for USPS.

Postalytics customers are easily adapting to the 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.

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USPS Holiday Season Days Off

USPS Holiday Season Days Off 2022

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. Here’s a list of key dates to consider for your holiday season direct mail delivery planning:

  • Monday, January 17th, (Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday)
  • Monday, February 21st (Presidents’ Day)
  • Monday, May 30th (Memorial Day)
  • Monday, June 20th (Juneteenth)
  • Monday, July 4th (Independence Day)
  • Monday, September 5th (Labor Day)
  • Monday, October 10th (Columbus Day)
  • Friday, November 11th (Veterans Day)
  • Thursday, November 25th (Thanksgiving Day)
  • Monday, December 26th (Christmas Day observed)

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

In the last couple of holiday seasons (2020 and 2021), the USPS had a very difficult time handling the surge in package volume that led to issues in delivering direct mail, especially with standard class or marketing mail.

While 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 2020 will most likely be less of a factor this year. While the global pandemic is still a major problem, the impact on the package delivery system (including FedEx and UPS) is not expected to be severe.

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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.

See “When To Use First Class vs. Standard Mail”

To be certain your mail is delivered before 12/25/22:

  • Postalytics Recommends Sending First Class Campaigns No Later Than December 9th
  • Postalytics Recommends Sending Standard Class Campaigns No Later Than November 29th

As a rule of thumb, plan roughly 4 weeks for standard class mail and 3 weeks for first-class mail campaigns.

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.

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Greeting Cards

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.

Catalogers

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.

Parcels

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.

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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 do its best to deliver 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 9th 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 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 29th 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 2020, we did have a few customers with standard mail sent in mid-December that ended up delivered in late 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!