SEATTLE -- Mondays leading up to Christmas are typically high-traffic days at post offices around the country, but not as high as they were a few years ago.
The U.S. Postal Service expects about 16 billion of parcels will be mailed nationwide between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, said Seattle-area spokesman Ernie Swanson. That's down from 20 billion two or three years ago -- a 20 percent decrease.
"Partly because of the economic recession, but also because people are migrating to electronic means of communication," Swanson said.
Thanks to the decrease, the Postal Service lost about $8.5 billion last year, forcing major cutbacks, including the elimination of about 100,000 jobs.
Lines were still long at the Queen Anne post office location on Monday because many people were mailing letters and packages that were finalized over the weekend. This Monday and next Monday are usually considered the busiest days at the post office during the holiday season, even though volume is down over the past couple years.
"This is the longest I have seen it," customer Eivor Von Hagel said after getting in line. "It may take half an hour at the most," she said, adding that service at this location is typically fast.
Meg Van Deusen was stamping and mailing about 60 holiday cards that were all written on Sunday.
"We haven't sent them in a few years," she said. "We've got a lot of catching up to do."
Van Deusen attributed the hiatus to "time and money," but decided to send to traditional cards, instead of e-mail cards, this year.
The line was much shorter -- only a handful of people deep -- in front of the Automated Postal Center. Many customers are afraid to use the machine because they like to have an employee guide them through the process, but Patty Carr decided to brave it Monday. Within just a couple of minutes, she was applying a stamp and putting her package in the mailbox, saving about half an hour of time.