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How UPS and FedEx Will Deal with Late Christmas Orders

Last-minute online shopping lost some luster at the end of the 2013 holiday shopping season thanks to late deliveries caused by bad weather and high package volumes. This year, shipping carriers UPS and FedEx said they would consider declining last-minute shipments if it meant avoiding overloading their shipping systems.

But despite the risk of disappointing last-minute shoppers with late deliveries, Shop.org found half of the retailers they surveyed for their 2014 Eholiday Retailer & Consumer Study plan to push their express delivery deadlines to as late as December 23rd.

Most retailers have established standard delivery shipping deadlines to about a week or more ahead of Christmas. In 2013, 34.2 percent of retailers made December 18th their standard shipping deadline. This year, only 21.2 percent have done so, with a similar percentage setting that deadline to December 15th or earlier.

Both FedEx and UPS expect to see higher overall holiday shipping volumes this year. A FedEx spokesperson told EcommerceBytes the company is forecasting a record season, predicting “290 million shipments will move through our global network between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, an 8.8% increase in overall year-over-year Peak seasonal volume.”

FedEx also expects December 15th to have 22.6 million packages moving through their global network that day, more than double their average daily volume. FedEx also told EcommerceBytes it has no price increases in place related to the peak 2014 shipping period.

However, UPS would consider a surcharge.

A UPS spokesperson told EcommerceBytes said, “We will evaluate volume above these commitments as long as we can maintain our network effectiveness. We may charge more or clearly define what our system can handle if any last-minute sales by a large shipper exceed what has been planned.”

Currently UPS anticipates a busy December with a global volume of over 585 million packages predicted. That would represent an 11 percent increase over 2013, UPS said.

FedEx said it has been working with customers all year to set expectations early. “Beyond that, we’ll work directly with our customers on a case-by-case basis to determine next steps,” the FedEx spokesperson said.

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.