Shipping companies expect package volume to skyrocket

Delivery companies are preparing for a barrage of delivery requests by adding new jobs and warning customers of deadlines as retail holiday sales begin.

Holiday shopping sales are expected to skyrocket to more than $655 billion through December, forcing shipping companies to deliver more packages than ever before.

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The increase in online sales — coupled with Thanksgiving and Black Friday falling earlier in the month — has created a demand for more reliable and expedited delivery practices. Shipping companies have warned customers to be aware of delivery deadlines, or their packages won’t make it to their destination in time for the holidays.

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The majority of products bought online or via mobile in the U.S. — more than 95 percent — are shipped by FedEx, UPS or the United States Postal Service. These three services combined will deliver more than a billion packages.

The increase in both shopping and delivery can be attributed to multiple factors, said Serdar Durmusoglu, associate professor of marketing at the University of Dayton. For one, Thanksgiving is earlier in the month — Nov. 24 — than it has been since 2012 when it landed on Nov. 22. It gives stores a few extra days of holiday shopping and shipping before Christmas.

“Retailers are a little more comfortable, I suspect,” Durmusoglu told the Dayton Daily News.

Black Friday sales have started as early as Nov. 1 this year, and late web shopping on Dec. 22 and 23 have increased up to 32 percent, according to FedEx. This has given shipping companies a steady flow of business that’s started earlier than years before.

The demand for delivery means more jobs for several of these companies. UPS plans to employ more than 95,000 seasonal workers, including delivery drivers, loaders and package sorters.

“In addition to investing in temporary seasonal processing facilities, UPS is implementing new technology and automation systems to increase capacity, efficiency and flexibility within the operations,” said Kate Gutmann, senior vice president of UPS sales and solutions.

FedEx is adding more than 50,000 additional positions leading up to the peak season, and have added 30 new aircraft since last year. U.S. Postal Service has also hired another 35,000 seasonal employees.

United Parcel Service, the world’s largest package delivery company, has estimated they will deliver more than 700 million packages during the holiday season.

RELATED: View the Dayton Daily News Black Friday Guide

There is an estimated 10 percent increase in non-store sales this year. In 2015, about 151 million shoppers were in stores and online over the Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend. Of those shoppers, about 41 million people — 46 percent — said they shopped online on Thanksgiving Day too.

That means even more shipping of products bought online. FedEx’s average daily volume of packages is expected to double to more than 25 million daily during the holiday season. They normally ship about 12 million daily.

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“Online and mobile commerce is simultaneously creating new opportunities and challenges for the retail industry, yet a constant remains: the holiday season is the most important time of the year for retailers,” Gutmann said. “We are committed to helping make this year’s peak season a success for our shippers in all industries.”

Because of the dramatic rise in package volume, companies are reminding customers to look up USPS, UPS and FedEx delivery deadlines. For standard parcel post shipments, packages should be sent by Dec. 15, and first-class mail should be send by Dec. 20.

Visit the Dayton Daily News Black Friday Guide for the full list of different delivery deadlines. 

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