Customers wait in long lines to ship last minute gifts during unprecedented holiday season

Online holiday shopping in the U.S. is expected to shatter last year’s sales by 33%, according to a national study by Adobe Analytics. Customers are racing to mail carrier services to make sure their gifts are under the tree on time. However, the longer they wait to get it in the mail, the less shipping options available.

On Tuesday, a line of people stood outside of a U.S. Postal Service office on 1st Avenue in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. Customers patiently waited as long as one hour to drop of packages for holiday shipping.

"I tried to come last night at 4:00 and there was like 40 people in line. So, I decided midday was going to be a better option," said customer Tessa King, who was in line for about 20 minutes.

"I think my friends will handle it if it comes on the 27th," said customer Peter Ramberg who dropped of two packages.

RELATED: Dec. 15 is the deadline for UPS, FedEx, USPS ground delivery by Christmas Day

For those who want packages delivered by USPS before Christmas, not many options are left. The next best choice is sending by Priority Mail. If the package is in by December 19, USPS said it can be delivered in one to three business days. The base rate starts at $7.50 and increases with weight and destination.

"Post office is pretty good for express postal if you just buy the right box," said Ramberg.

FedEx is asking customers for patience on what is expected to be a record mailing season. With the rapid growth of online shopping due to the pandemic, FedEx predicts shipping volumes will be up 22 percent compared to last year.

USPS is also experiencing an unprecedented holiday.

"We would ask that our customers be patient. We would ask to help themselves and ourselves by mailing early of course," said Ernie Swanson, USPS Ernie Swanson, USPS corporate communications specialist.

Swanson said to reduce COVID-19 exposure, customers and staff are required to wear masks, maintain six feet distance, plexiglass is placed throughout offices and crews sanitize overnight. Carriers are equipped with PPE. Swanson said USPS is offering extra availability to help customers meet their holiday shipping needs.

"We’ve put on additional people for the holiday mailing season, we’ve put on additional transportation, we’ve extended the hours at some of the retail offices. Some offices at a few locations will be open for a few hours on this coming Sunday," said Swanson.

All the extra effort is to help make as many holiday wishes come true, however, it will come at a price for customers. UPS said fees will vary, but customers have as late as December 21 for UPS 3 Day Select, December 22 for UPS 2nd Day Air, and December 23rd for UPS Next Day Air.

Most mail carriers also offer shipping labels for customers to print online to save some time.