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NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: Delivery service employees deserve appreciation for helping make holidays bright

Most major retailers and shippers have anticipated that online Christmas shopping would be at such a high level this holiday season it would put a tremendous strain on package delivery systems.

Some forecasts have estimated online holiday sales will top $100 billion this year, and UPS, FedEx and Amazon hired more than 250,000 seasonal workers to help handle the increase in online orders.

That’s why News-Sentinel.com wants to pay tribute on the day after Christmas to all those harried delivery service employees who helped make the holiday bright for so many of us who depended upon them to receive holiday gifts on time.

The U.S. Postal Service said it was prepared to deliver more than 28 million packages per day to the last-minute shoppers between Dec. 16 and Dec. 21 and would average 20.5 million packages per day through the end of the year. It stated on its website that it projected 800 million package deliveries between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

The Postal Service says it delivers more packages to homes than any other shipper. It already delivers packages on Sundays in most major cities but expanded Sunday delivery on Nov. 24 to locations with high package volumes, anticipating more than 8 million packages to be delivered on Sundays in December.

Mail carriers were also prepared to deliver packages on Christmas Day in select locations for an additional fee. Including the packages, USPS carriers delivered 2.5 billion pieces of mail in the last full week before Christmas.

UPS expects that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve it will have delivered 750 million packages worldwide. FedEx says it should have 380 million to 400 million deliveries.

USPS, FedEx, UPS and other delivery services expected to deliver more than 2 billion total packages over the holiday season, which is six days shorter than in 2018 and the shortest since 2013.

“This holiday season, we’ve prepared like never before,” UPS CEO David Abney said in a statement in USA Today. “UPS has invested billions in our facilities, our air fleet and our workforce. We have the capacity for, and are committed to, serving the unique needs of all our customers.”

Overall shipping volume is up more than 21 percent this year. But the tremendous volume, complicated by storms in some areas of the country, has delayed on-time deliveries. FedEx has an on-time delivery rate of about 68 percent since Thanksgiving, down from more than 77 percent a year ago, while UPS has had an 80 percent on-time rate, down from 86 percent last year.

UPS ranks No. 1 and FedEx No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest North American for-hire carriers. The ultimate size of the holiday surge took UPS by surprise, according to a Chicago Tribune story, leading to slight delays and more overtime for many drivers during a backlog of orders following Cyber Monday the company said has since cleared.

The huge spike in online orders and the ensuing demand for deliveries has made for a lot more headaches for shippers, delivery workers and customers. And while complaints are to be expected, because not everything can possibly go as planned, we are grateful to those who are committed to customer service and do their best to carefully schedule and transport deliveries from shipper to front doors throughout the country to make Christmas a little bit brighter for all of us.

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