Carriers rejoice in deliveries in time for the holidays

The country’s major shipping lines have been in the best position to deliver packages for holiday shoppers on time since the pandemic began, suggesting a return to normal.

Carriers like the US Postal Service, FedEx and United Parcel Service plan to have ample capacity after struggling under the holiday crush over the past two years, when many people hunkered down at home and turned to online shopping.

The system is already being put to the test ahead of the big shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber ​​​​Monday, when retailers entice shoppers with bargains. Amazon held a second Prime Day in October to kick-start early holiday sales, but some shoppers are still waiting for deals in the coming days.

Brie Carere, customer service manager at FedEx, told The Associated Press that she was not worried: “The network has been running at its best since COVID. We are confident and ready.

Several factors come into play: consumers started early, made more purchases in stores and moderated their spending due to inflationary pressures, thereby reducing the volume of shipments and spreading shipments over a longer period. An extra shipping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas also helps.

The outlook could be a win for carriers who need fewer temporary workers, retailers who face fewer peak surcharges and shoppers whose gifts are more likely to be delivered on time, said Satish Jindel, president of ShipMatrix, based in Pennsylvania.

The general optimism represents a stark contrast to the holiday seasons in 2020 and 2021, when more everyday items were shipped during the pandemic, supply chain issues were a concern and shipping companies had hard to follow.

Carriers that reached their capacity limit dumped their excess packages on the struggling U.S. Postal Service in 2020, when more than a third of the Postal Service’s first-class mail was late when Christmas arrived. At the time, the Postal Service struggled despite having thousands of quarantined workers.

Performance improved last year. And Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the situation is even better now, with the installation of 137 new parcel sorting machines ahead of the holiday season, bringing the total to 249 additional parcel processing machines since March 2021.

This brings the Postal Service’s daily package handling capacity to 60 million, and staffing improvements have enabled the Postal Service to cut seasonal hiring in half.

“Our customers and the American people should have confidence in the service we will provide this holiday season,” he said.

In total, shipping lines should have excess capacity of 10 to 20 million packages beyond what is needed each day at peak times, providing a buffer and reducing peak surcharges, Jindel said.

And they continue to line up additional workers to meet peaks in demand. Amazon, which operates its own fleet of delivery vehicles, said it was again hiring 150,000 employees for full-time, part-time and seasonal positions in the United States. United Parcel Service planned to hire more than 100,000 seasonal workers to overcome the hurdle while stressing that it is always smart to avoid waiting until the last minute.

“Shopping, buying and shipping early continues to be important to avoid the busiest times of peak season,” UPS spokesman Jim Mayer said.


Sharp reported from Portland, Maine. Associated Press writer Anne D’Innocenzio in New York contributed to this report.


Follow David Sharp on Twitter @David_Sharp_AP.

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