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Tom Smart, Deseret News
FedEx employees send out packages on what the company expects to be the busiest shipping day in its history, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY — ′Tis the season for shipping and receiving.

No one knows that better than companies handling millions of packages destined for  faraway Christmas trees. Contemporary Santa Clauses wear brown or blue shirts and shorts, not red suits with jingle bells.

"We had anywhere from 12,000 to 13,000 pieces come through this system this morning," Sherman Hadley, FedEx Express operations manager in West Valley City, said Monday. "We'll see another 20,000 to 25,000 outbound tonight just though our location."

FedEx processes about 9 million packages around the globe daily but was expected to more than double that Monday to about 19 million packages, a record day for the company.

Hadley said it's all thanks to online holiday shopping.

"It's earlier this year than it ever has been. It's heavier than it ever has been, so it's a record-setting day for us in terms of our outbound," he said.

Things weren't bustling at the downtown UPS Store on Monday morning.

"I know this is the day they claimed to be the busiest shipping day of the year, but so far we're not that busy," said owner Nancy Taylor. "Things may pick up."

UPS projects its peak day to be Dec. 20, when it anticipates delivering 300 packages per second or 28 million worldwide, said spokeswoman Candy Hanson. It typically handles  15.8 million packages a day.

The U.S. Postal Service expects Dec. 17 to be the busiest mailing day of the year and Dec. 19 and Dec. 20 the busiest delivery days. It anticipates handling 365 million packages during the holiday season, a 20 percent increase over last year.

Overall, the post office projects to process nearly 18 billion cards, letters and packages between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve.

Regardless of which carrier someone selects, there's still time to get those cards and gifts delivered before Christmas. Slowpokes, though, will end up paying higher prices.

"People pretty much know this week they better get it done or by next week you're looking at shipping things two-day air or overnight, which gets super expensive," Taylor said. "You still have those people that, no matter what, procrastinate, and they're here trying to make the decision to pay more to get their gifts there than they paid for their gifts."

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