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Still waiting for packages that were mailed in December? It could be awhile

Ellie Rushing, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

PHILADELPHIA — Are you still waiting for packages from early December to arrive?

You’re not alone, but be patient, postal workers warn, because it might be a while.

In U.S. Postal Service facilities across the country, hundreds of thousands of items sent in late November and early December are sitting at the bottom of massive piles of delayed mail that continue to grow with new packages daily.

Employees inside the Philadelphia Processing and Delivery Center said they are prioritizing the packages coming in now, and doing their best to scrounge up items under the mass when time allows. But as the agency continues to experience record package volumes amid the pandemic, the pile keeps growing.

“Honestly, it’s going to be at least six to eight weeks” until the backlog is cleared, said Laurence Love, a clerk craft director at the Philadelphia facility on Lindbergh Boulevard.

“All we can ask of people is to be patient and understand that the people that are working inside the facilities, inside the post offices are doing everything they can,” said Andy Kubat, president of the Lehigh Valley Area Local American Postal Workers Union.


In anticipation of record package levels, private carriers like UPS and FedEx cut off delivery service for some retailers, which funneled even more parcels through an already overwhelmed Postal Service. USPS hired thousands of temporary workers, and upped late and extra delivery trips, but pileups continued.

ShipMatrix data shows that across all carriers, over a million packages were delayed more than 30 days over the country. About 0.2% of FedEx packages and 0.39% of UPS items were delayed more than 30 days, while USPS saw 1.54% of packages delayed for over a month.

While delays persist across the country, the Philadelphia region fared particularly badly this holiday season, said Satish Jindel, president of ShipMatrix, a Pittsburgh-area-based company that tracks parcels.

More than 90% of packages were delivered on time in the Philadelphia metro area through November, according to ShipMatrix data. Then, Jindel said, it dropped dramatically in early December. By Christmas week, on-time delivery was below 50%. Jindel couldn’t give precise data to compare Philadelphia to other cities.


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