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USPS prepares to process 12 billion cards and packages for the holidays

USPS has added more than 40,000 seasonal jobs and new package sorting machines across the U.S. to prepare for increased holiday shipping demands.

SPOKANE, Wash. —

With the days until Christmas winding down, so are the days to send out packages and gifts ahead of Dec. 25.  

USPS recommends that if you still have packages to send out, you should do it before Dec. 23 and use priority express shipping. 

USPS has been preparing for an increase in holiday shipments since September. 

According to the postal service, USPS has been hiring for more than 40,000 seasonal employees for the last four months. Those employees will help process the estimated 12 billion cards, letters and packages between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. 

USPS also installed 118 new package sorting machines in USPS facilities across the U.S., including one in Spokane, to help alleviate the holiday rush. 

The machines process mail 12 times faster than manual sorting. 

USPS post offices in Spokane extended weekend hours earlier this month to service more customers and their packages. This extension threw some people off when it came to sending off packages on the Sunday before Christmas. 

“I was thrilled when I pulled in and the parking lot was empty. I wouldn't have to stand in line too long. Then I realized they were closed,” Kathy Myers said. 

Walking into a closed post office, led to many opting in for the self-service option, but at the USPS on Regal St., there were no available boxes. 

Myers walked out of the post office and said she would have to come back tomorrow and try again. 

On the other side of town at the Garland Ave. USPS, there were several large priority mailers, but nothing smaller. 

USPS offers a Click-N-Ship option where customers can order priority boxes, pay postage and request next-day package pick up all online. 

Spokane resident Cindy Edgar said the best way to avoid holiday post office lines is by using the self-service option. 

"I've been in the post office a couple times this week and it was pretty crowded but then again I use the priority mailboxes," Edgar said. 

The post office will operate at normal business hours through this week.