IN a warehouse the size of one-and-a-half football pitches, more than 1000 workers are gearing up for what is likely to be Royal Mail's busiest Christmas yet.
Next week marks the beginning of the busiest period of the year at the Glasgow Mail Centre in Springburn, with more than 4million cards and packages – more than double the amount on a normal day –arriving for sorting.
More than 1000 Royal Mail postal staff, plus an extra 600 seasonal workers, are working around the clock to collect, sort and deliver Christmas cards, letters and parcels in time for the big day.
And the Evening Times was there when Michael Hewitt, Royal Mail centre manager, went back to the floor to keep an eye on business.
Decorated with tinsel and lights, the 10,000 square metre centre distributes post to Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Argyll, and Ayrshire.
It is brought to life with hundreds of thousands of brightly coloured envelopes and brown paper packages from the festive mailbag.
Michael said: "Christmas is the busiest time of year for Royal Mail and our customers, and this year is set to be one of the busiest yet.
"From now until Christmas, it will be all hands on deck and we will be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week - it's non-stop.
"Now, we are three times as busy as the rest of the year. It's an exciting time."
The letters and parcels arrive in this part of the world in planes, trains and trucks from all over the country.
When it arrives, the post is separated by large, noisy machines into packages, letters and then into first and second class.
It is then divided into postcode areas and ordered specifically for postmen in different areas.
Among the smiling and chatty staff, there are Christmas trees and decorations dotted around the centre.
Marie Dougan, 56, of Glasgow, has been working at the Glasgow Mail Centre for 20 years.
She said: "Christmas is a great time of year to work here - it's very busy, but it's a good atmosphere and a friendly environment. I just love it here."
June Money, who has worked at the centre for 12 years, said she loves seeing all the letters that children have sent to Santa.
The 55-year-old from Easterhouse, said: "The letters to Santa are just lovely, lots of the children write on the envelope what they want for Christmas.
"Working here can be hectic, especially at this time of year, but little things like that add to the Christmas spirit and keep staff going."
To handle the rise in online shopping, Royal Mail has opened a dedicated packet network, including a hub at Eurocentral in North Lanarkshire.
More than 30,000 people are expected to shop online this year.
The parcel sorting centre at Eurocentral, off the M8, is one of eight dedicated parcel sorting centres opened by Royal Mail across the UK.
It will handle thousands of parcels on the busiest days in the run-up to Christmas.
The centres – including those in Bathgate, Swansea, Bolton, Tamworth, Peterborough, Swindon and Greenford – were set up to sort a significant proportion of the parcels Royal Mail handles before they are distributed nationwide.
Mr Hewitt, continued: "This year has been as busy as ever, but we have seen an increase in the number of packets and parcels.
"Lots of people are ordering gifts online - much more so than in previous years.
"That's why we have taken on so many seasonal workers and are using the sorting centre out at Eurocentral too."
He added: "We would urge people who still have online shopping to do or cards to post to do it as soon as possible.
"We also encourage people to make sure they correctly address their cards, letters and parcels, including using a postcode."
The last posting date for 2nd class mail is next Tuesday and 1st class has to be posted by next Thursday, December 20.
Some cards and presents can be sent by special delivery, until Saturday, December 22 and they will be delivered on Christmas Eve