There was a reason for those long lines at local post offices Monday. Dawdlers who didn't make the deadline for priority mail delivery face a steep premium to ship gifts by Christmas Eve.
Mother Nature added a new wrinkle this year. Heavy weekend snows stretching from the Carolinas to New England unleashed a burst of eleventh-hour online shopping on retailers' biggest weekend. Because many online retailers stepped in by extending free shipping offers until Monday, delivery services have even more packages to handle.
But while the U.S. Postal Service suggests you drop off even next-day packages a day early, neither the post office nor UPS and FedEx expect to miss any deadlines. (Except, of course, where roads are unsafe to drive.)
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15 million: Packages in UPS system daily.
22 million: Packages on Monday, the busiest day of the year.
10 million: Packages UPS and FedEx air expect to handle Wednesday, the busiest day for express shipping
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$13.95: What you would have paid for Postal Service priority mail to deliver a 10-pound package anywhere in the country before the mailing deadline passed Monday.
$37.70: UPS two-day rate for a 10-pound package delivered to rural home near Ravenna, Ohio, by Christmas Eve. FedEx wants $35.10. Shipping deadline is today.
$56.90: Postal Service, next-day air for same package (the last Postal Service option left). Deadline as late as Wednesday.
$76.49: UPS next-day air cost for same package to same place if sent Wednesday. FedEx wants $73.89.
$305.97: What FedEx wants for same day pick-up and delivery of a 10-pound package to New York on Christmas Day — plus you must be pre-screened by the Transportation Security Administration.
$384.09: Same-day package delivered to Ravenna, Ohio
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$2 billion: Sales stores lost from the winter storm on a Saturday when they usually do $15 billion.
Sources: UPS, USPS, FedEx Corp., Planalytics