By Scott Hammers

The Bulletin

If a trip to the post office this holiday season feels like it’s taking longer than ever, you’re probably right. The Postal Service is busy.

Peter Haas, regional spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said it expects to handle 850 million packages nationwide between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a 10 percent increase over the same period in 2016.

Delivering packages is more time consuming than delivering smaller items, Haas said, and bulky packages can test the carrying capacity of carrier vehicles.

Haas said turnover and retirements left the Bend post office shorthanded earlier in the year, but the office is now fully staffed. The Bend main post office on the city’s north end was open the last two Saturdays to help manage the uptick in volume, and carriers are frequently working later into the evening to ensure that mail is delivered.

“It’s our Super Bowl,” Haas said. “This is the time of year our employees are, I think, proudest to do the jobs they do.”

The closure of a contract post office at the Butler Market Store South earlier this year is likely also a contributor to longer lines at the post office.

Contract offices are a small version of a post office located within a private business and staffed by non-U.S. Postal Service employees, typically offering a bank of post office boxes, and a service counter where customers can send or pick up packages.

Haas said the operators of the store elected not to renew their contract with the Postal Service when it expired. He said the post office is looking for a partner to open a new contract office in the area, but has not set a timeline for making a decision.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387,