Clock’s ticking for Christmas Day deliveries

Mike Dietzman stands loaded with Christmas gifts at the Durango post office Tuesday morning. Post office officials say traffic has doubled as Christmas approaches. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Mike Dietzman stands loaded with Christmas gifts at the Durango post office Tuesday morning. Post office officials say traffic has doubled as Christmas approaches.

As holiday shoppers finish last-minute shopping, they are preparing for what some dread as the worst part of the process: delivery.

Lines at the Durango post office this week have roped out the front door and onto the sidewalk as people try to send packages before Christmas delivery deadlines hit.

Most customers say they are willing to brave the wait to ensure their packages get to their destinations before Christmas.

“You kind of come and expect the worst, but hope for the best,” said Durango resident Jeff Sheftal, as he waited in line Monday afternoon at the post office.

Many do not have a choice, as deadlines that guarantee delivery before Christmas are nearing.

“We’ve seen an increase of maybe 50 percent more packages than normal,” said Durango Postmaster Sean Schtakleff. He also estimates that the post office has doubled the normal daily amount of customers.

He said he expected the flood of customers to continue to rise until the end of the week and into next week before calm finally could be restored.

“Its hectic here – it’s organized chaos,” he said.

The post office is not the only delivery service in town that has had a significant holiday rush before shipping deadlines close.

UPS and FedEx deadlines also are drawing near, and they too have had more customers than usual. UPS branch owner Linda Munch said the operation is delivering about 50 to 75 more packages a day on average, and they are having about 250 customers a day compared with an average of about 100.

In order to handle the overflow, Munch has three employees working the front desk instead of just one. UPS also has more delivery trucks in service.

Customers at all three businesses say they expect the lines and stress of last-minute shipping. Many also admitted to procrastinating.

“This is a little late for me – I usually ship a few weeks earlier,” said Candice Jenkins, who was making her second delivery in the last two weeks at the post office. Customers said the line has been going through the door for the last few days, and they expect lines to grow this week.

Getting packages to their destinations on time also means overcoming winter obstacles.

“The snow kind of put a damper in our delivery,” said Schtakleff, who said some post office delivery personnel stayed out until 8 p.m. Saturday. “But everyone works hard here to make it all happen.”

herald@durangoherald.com