NEWS

PEORIA: Mail clerks fight busiest mail day of the year

Erin Wood

Cars packed post office parking lots on Monday — the biggest mailing day of the year — as gift-givers rushed to send last-minute Christmas presents.

The Peoria post office stamped 2½ million cards, letters and packages on Monday, exactly a week before Christmas Eve. Customer Relations Coordinator Brian Wagner said the total mail volume was expected to be double that of a normal Monday.

"We knew it was going to be a big day, and our customers haven’t disappointed us," he said about noon. "We’ve had a good line all morning."

Nationwide, about 1 billion pieces of mail enter the mail stream on Dec. 17 each year.

Wagner said the Peoria post office plans ahead by hiring temporary employees to keep up with holiday mailings. But workers are still busy, and Wagner said a lunch break probably wouldn’t fit in his agenda on Monday.

"I may just have to eat snacks all day," he said as he directed customers to appropriate lines. "But I have to commend the clerks. They’re really getting people moving."

Wagner said shoppers bought their last-minute gifts over the weekend and mailed them Monday to friends and family across the country. Slippery, snow-packed roads discouraged drivers on Saturday, helping make the biggest mailing day of the year even bigger — at least in Peoria.

Wednesday will be just as busy for postal workers, as that’s when most of Monday’s mail from other post offices reaches Peoria.

"Our carriers look like the Grinch hoarding packages and stacking them up all over the place," Wagner said.

Megan Vlach of Peoria walked into the post office on State Street carrying 250 Christmas cards, six presents and her 9-month-old daughter.

She said she didn’t know Monday was the biggest mailing day of the year, and she "accidentally came on the wrong day."

Though she did most of her Christmas shopping online and had her gifts sent directly to her friends and family, Vlach said she would have gone to the post office to get her last-minute packages sent out, even if she had known there would be a line.

"I wouldn’t have had a choice," she said. "They had to go today."

Priority Mail can be sent through Thursday and likely will still get to recipients by Christmas. Express Mail sent by Dec. 22 has a delivery service guarantee.

Erin Wood can be reached at (309) 686-3194 or ewood@pjstar.com.