For most workers, Mondays can seem like a heavy burden to bear, after two days spent away from bosses, e-mails and other trappings of the working world.

For mail carriers, this Monday is like four of those Mondays rolled into one — literally.

Roughly 2 million last-minute letters to and from Western New York are expected to come through the United States Postal Service’s central processing center in Buffalo this Monday, said Postal Service spokeswoman Karen Mazurkiewicz.

That’s four times the normal amount delivered on a Monday. And it doesn’t include packages.

“The Monday before Christmas is our busiest day, year after year,” Mazurkiewicz said. Nationally, the post office expects to handle 280 million cards and letters and 900 million total pieces of mail, a more than 50 percent increase from the typical 670 million.

Monday is the deadline to guarantee delivery of a letter or package by Dec. 25 by First-Class Mail. Procrastinators or those with late-breaking gift ideas can pay more to ship by Priority Mail on Dec. 21, or Express Mail by Dec. 23, but customers are asked to check with their post office before mailing.

Among the commercial delivery firms, UPS expects to move about 40 percent more packages this Tuesday, its busiest day, than on a typical Tuesday. Last year, FedEx delivered 8.5 million packages on Dec. 12, the height of its shipping season.

In Niagara Falls, Postmaster Thomas Szklarz said it will likely take carriers a bit longer than normal to finish their rounds Monday, but the additional package volume “usually isn’t a problem.”

“We’ve got some pretty seasoned employees who know what to expect,” Szklarz said. “As long as the sidewalks and streets are in pretty good shape, so are we.”

But while last year saw fairly good weather until Christmas Eve, this year freezing rain and abrupt temperature shifts have made for icy conditions, which can slow delivery and endanger carriers.

“We ask that customers take the time to make sure their stairways and approaches are clean, especially if there are porches or steps,” Szklarz said. “If it’s icy, put down some melting compounds to make it more manageable.”

Those who miss their mail carriers on Monday can still head to an Automated Postal Center in the lobby of certain post offices, including one at the LaSalle office at 9860 Niagara Falls Blvd. in Niagara Falls, and post offices in Grand Island, Lockport, Amherst and other areas. The LaSalle post office is also open until 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Although most people will be in a hurry to get their packages into the mail and off of their minds, Szklarz said the most important factor in on-time delivery is taking time to make sure addresses, especially ZIP codes, are printed clearly and correctly.

“Just missing one digit, like transposing a 14305 into a 14035, can really hurt the delivery time,” he said. “If it’s a wrong street number, sometimes, especially in an area like Niagara Falls, we know or can find out where they live.”

“But other times,” Szklarz said, “It can be disappointing, to say the least.”



Mailing and Shipping Deadlines

Last day to ship letters, cards and packages by U.S. Postal Service and have it definitely arrive by Christmas:

- First-Class Mail: Dec. 19

- Priority Mail: Dec. 21

- Express Mail: Dec. 23

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