The U.S. Postal Service has watched helplessly as electronic mail has replaced first-class mail over the past two decades.
But in an odd twist of technology, the Internet is helping the Post Office and other carriers this holiday season.
The Web has cut the number of mailed letters and holiday cards by a fourth in the past three years alone, but online shipping is helping to make up at least some of that shortfall.
Online holiday sales are expected to grow 12 percent over last season to as much as $96 billion nationwide, according to shop.org.
The Postal Service estimates 365 million packages are expected to be delivered by the Postal Service, a 20 percent increase over last year.
To help handle the higher Christmas volume, most of the Postal Service's blue boxes around Chattanooga will be picked up each morning at 10 a.m. on weekdays through Christmas.
"To help expedite the increase in cards and letters during the holiday season, we are making additional runs so that mail is processed more quickly," Tennessee District Manager David J. Dillman said in a statement. "The Postal Service expects to deliver nearly 18 billion cards, letters and packages between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. Therefore, we are making these extra collections to meet our service standard."
Mailing services across the board from the U.S. Postal Service to FedEx are expecting significant increases in the number of packages they'll be delivering for Christmas.
FedEx expects to deliver 280 million packages worldwide this season, a 13 percent increase over last year.
FedEx's busiest day is expected to be Monday when 19 million shipments will be made globally, making it the company's single busiest day on record.
The Postal Service's busiest mailing days this year will be Monday, Dec. 17 followed by Monday, Dec. 10 as it will see almost triple in normal volume. The busiest delivery day for letters is Dec. 19, and for packages is Dec. 20.