Postal Service sees fewer holiday packages

Normally the busiest time of the year, the U.S. Postal Service says the pace is down.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The last Monday a week before Christmas has traditionally been the busiest day of the year for the U.S. Postal Service and people mailing holiday packages, but officials say the pace is down this year because of the economy.

"Yes, we have seen somewhat of a downturn but it's still a little bit early in our season to predict just how much it will impact us," said Yverne Pat Moore, postmaster for Washington, D.C.

She spoke at what normally is the busiest post office in her region, but only a handful of people were in line at the front counter Monday morning. In the back of the facility, handlers had comparatively smaller piles of parcels stacked up awaiting long-haul delivery trucks.

"Obviously we, like the rest of the economy, are seeing a little bit less in terms of the packages," Moore said. Nationwide, "we're forecasting maybe 19 billion pieces" for the period, she said, about a billion pieces fewer than normal.

She said volume has also been hurt by Internet shopping and online outlets that ship directly, often using competitors to the Postal Service to deliver merchandise.

Moore suggested DHL's withdrawal from the domestic U.S. market in recent months has brought some business back to the Postal Service.

And Moore disputed the notion electronic holiday cards would soon replace the annual mailing of season's greetings. She told CNN "more and more customers are finding that the personalization of sending that card to a residence has really found its mainstay in America. And so people are sending the cards." To top of page

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