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Papal Visit Could Disrupt Online Shopping Deliveries

A higher power could disrupt pick-up and delivery of ecommerce packages, but this week it’s not Mother Nature online buyers and sellers must worry about – it’s the Pope. This week, security measures will be in place in areas of Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia as Pope Francis visits the United States September 22-27, 2015, and online sellers should be on the alert.

UPS issued a warning of its contingency plans to minimize service impacts that includes no pickups and deliveries in some ZIP codes. The schedule is as follows:

  • Washington, D.C.: Tuesday, September 22, through Thursday, September 24. (Only limited areas of ZIP codes will be impacted, depending upon street closures.)
  • New York City: Thursday and Friday, September 24-25
  • Philadelphia: Friday and Saturday, September 25-26

The US Postal Service issued a similar warning: “With the impending Papal visit and related events, impacts can be expected in the Washington, DC, New York and Philadelphia regions.” The USPS expects only minimal/limited delays to deliveries and collections in the immediate areas of events in New York City and Washington DC.

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However, it issued specific warnings about the Philadelphia area, warning that some collection boxes will actually be removed and locked. “USPS anticipates potential delays to mail in a broader area around the Philadelphia Metropolitan area.” Included are areas in Philadelphia, Southern New Jersey, Delaware, Harrisburg, and Lehigh Valley.

“In association with the Papal visit and related events in Philadelphia, a large section of the downtown area will be designated as a security perimeter from Sept. 25 – 27. These security measures will restrict the ability of the USPS to conduct deliveries and retail operations in this area.”

  • Thursday, Sept 24: Collection boxes in the impacted Philadelphia downtown area will be removed and locked.
  • Friday, Sept. 25: the Philadelphia Main Office (19102, 19103, and 19104), William Penn Delivery Annex (19106 and 19107), Fairmount (19130) Station and Spring Garden (19122 and 19123) Station will adjust their delivery schedule to have carriers complete delivery by 1 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 -27 – There will be no delivery or collection of mail in these same areas.
  • Monday, Sept. 28 – USPS will return to full operations with delivery and collection of mail. Sept. 14, 2015, 1:30 p.m. ET.

Online merchants should keep an eye on packages going to the affected areas, and merchants who are based in those areas may want to give customers notice that their packages could be delayed. It’s not certain if online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon.com will take precautions to advise customers of potential delays and protect seller feedback from performance penalties that might arise from the planned service disruptions.

Update: FedEx also issued an alert, today. “The papal visit to the U.S. is expected to cause delays and disruptions in the Washington, D.C., New York, NY and Philadelphia, PA metro areas including some bridges and tunnels leading into and out of the areas. FedEx will be operating during this event, although customers may experience service delays and disruptions in these areas because of local restrictions.

We have implemented contingency plans to help mitigate delays. Our goal is 100% reliability and we appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding while our operations teams work to minimize any delays. Please continue to check fedex.com for updates.

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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