Here at Production Solutions, we keep a list and we’re checking it twice. Not about whether our donors are naughty or nice (all donors are, by definition, nice), but whether the mail will get through this holiday season. And there are some reasons to add your Mail Track Reporting to those visions of sugarplums running through your head:
Package volume is at a record high. In addition to the obvious shift to e-commerce this year, UPS, FedEx, and other carriers started cutting retailers off in mid-November. This excess volume and what Amazon can’t handle on their own has landed with the Postal Service who is legally required to take it.
The USPS workforce is short. USPS is realizing workforce shortages due to COVID-19 and a liberal leave policy even though they hired temporary holiday labor.
More volume + less workers = outages. The USPS had to embargo five facilities: Birmingham Annex, West Valley, Detroit, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. Though the last of the embargoes was lifted over the weekend, trucks at these facilities and others are still waiting In line for hours waiting to offload.
This, we believe, the first time this is ever happened. We typically see a “redirection” to another facility when a facilities operation is impacted (in fact, three other facilities are being redirected). This clearly informs us that the USPS is strained across multiple sites.
Unfortunately any mail that is prepared for Destination Entry Discounts and for which postage has already been paid to the USPS cannot be redirected to another facility if an embargo is in effect.
Here’s the good news: These facilities are primarily processing mail sorted for NDC (Network Distribution Center) processing. Most fundraising mail is commingled at the SCF (sectional center facility — basically, by 5-digit ZIP) level and won’t be impacted. That being said, closures and redirections cause ripple effects, so anticipate some variability in your in-home dates. More challenging will be return mail, which is not pre-sorted, so it will take longer to get your donations this holiday season.
Some additional good news is that a lot of this will clear up in the new year with package volume subsiding somewhat. And, if there are still delays, it is because UPS, FedEx, and USPS are working on vaccine distribution logistics, which is a reason for mail delays we can all get behind.
So ask your partners to keep a close eye on Mail Track Reporting. They should be able to help you guide you through the impacts on your mailings.