Updated 11/27/2012 05:39 PM
Online sales help give USPS holiday boost
The internet has taken a bite out of USPS business, but it's another one of its uses that's giving post offices a boost. Sarah Blazonis reports.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The holiday shipping season brings high stakes for the U.S. Postal Service.
"This is the make or break us for the rest of the year period of time. Mondays our lobbies are full. All the computers are being run, we staff extra help out in the lobby to help customers get ready to mail their packages," said Syracuse Postmaster Cameron Whitmore.
And it looks like there will be plenty of those this year. The post office expects to ship 365 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. That's a record-breaking 20 percent increase from last year.
"We're ramping up our processing, our transportation, in preparation for everything," said Whitmore.
And it's largely thanks to the click of a mouse. Several million clicks, actually.
Cyber Monday sales were up 28 percent from last year, surpassing the expected $1.5 billion haul. Black Friday online sales also topped the billion dollar mark for the first time.
"You again are in the holiday shipping business putting a couple items maybe in one gift package and mailing them again. We see people who are doing two or three or four different mailings of packages with essentially one gift item in transit," said USPS Corporate Communications Manager Maureen Marion.
But that boost isn't enough to make up for the about 30 percent decrease in letters, cards and other pieces of first class mail seen since 2006. Still, a spokesperson for the post office says they are encouraged by the numbers and continue to look for ways to help them grow.
"We're looking at ways to better align ourselves as both the shipper of choice and how to continue to grow our presence as a presence with internet business," said Marion.
And continue to adapt a 237-year-old system with the changing times.