NBC 5 Responds

This Holiday Season, Don't Wait to Shop or Ship, Experts Say

Experts advise getting packages in the mail well before deadlines to make sure they arrive on time

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Between holiday shopping and consumers shifting to online purchases during the pandemic, shipping volume is high this holiday season.

Amazon, UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service will deliver three billion packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to Satish Jindel, president and founder of software and consulting provider ShipMatrix, a company that tracks performance times for shipping operations.

Of those three billion packages, Jindel expects about seven million to miss their promised delivery time.

“That’s still just a few million compared to billions that are going to get delivered on time,” said Jindel.

Jindel said most delays would amount to a day or two. Early in the season, he said FedEx, UPS and USPS are generally hitting their deadlines – at times exceeding national averages in Texas.

All three of them are doing as good or better with the deliveries they're making within the state of Texas,” said Jindel.

He points out shippers have ramped up operations to account for this season’s demand. Even so, Jindel said customers should aim for getting packages in the mail as soon as possible.

FedEx, UPS and USPS say Dec. 15 is the recommended deadline to ship a package by ground if you want it to arrive in time for Christmas.

Weeks before Black Friday, major retailers announced early discounts and sales in hopes of spreading out shipping demand.

The weekend after Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, UPS said it set “specific capacity allocations” for its largest retail customers.

“If demand exceeds planned allocations, we will work with our larger customers to ensure the volume gets picked up and delivered as more capacity becomes available in our network,” the company shared with NBC 5 Responds.

UPS said it has expanded weekend operations, added 20 new facilities and 14 additional aircraft for the peak season.

The U.S. Postal Service said it’s expecting significant volume increases and that’s it’s committed to delivering gifts and cards on time, telling NBC 5 Responds, This has been an extraordinary year of unprecedented challenges given the COVID-19 pandemic and the Postal Service is expecting significant volume increases which are difficult to predict.”

FedEx predicts a record-breaking year with a 22% increase in shipping volumes this year. The company said it prepared months in advance for an “unprecedented holiday season.”

“With more than 500,000 dedicated team members, the strength and reach of our global network, and a significant investment in our facilities and fleet, we are well-positioned to meet the peak demand and look forward to helping deliver the holidays for our customers around the world in a challenging environment,” said FedEx.

Amazon hasn’t shared this year’s shipping cutoff times but said the company added new transportation capacity, 100,000 new full-time and part-time employees along with an additional 100,000 seasonal workers.

Small business owners said they’re getting the word out to their customers to shop early.

Rachael Wolfner, owner of an online children’s clothing boutique, said she’s preparing to move quickly to get orders out as soon as they come in.

“I have things up for preorder,” said Wolfner. “I can go ahead and ship them the same day that I receive them so there’s no issues with people receiving anything they’ve ordered too late.”

Wolfner said her advice to any online shopper is to plan ahead and check each retailer’s shipping dates.

I know a lot of small shops, including myself, are working hard to ship orders the same day or the next day so there are no issues,” said Wolfner.

“They want your business, they want you to keep coming back. So, they're going to do whatever they can to make sure whatever you need is there in time for you for Christmas,” Wolfner added.

You can see an overview of shipping deadlines below:


Dec. 9 — FedEx SmartPost (certain exceptions may apply)
Dec. 15 — FexEx Ground and Home Delivery
Dec. 21 — FedEx Express Saver
Dec. 22 — FedEx 2-Day
Dec. 23 — FedEx Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight and First Overnight
Dec. 25 — FedEx SameDay, SameDay City Priority and SameDay City Direct
A full list from FedEx can be found here.


Dec. 15 — UPS Ground
Dec. 21 — UPS 3 Day Select
Dec. 22 — UPS 2nd Day Air
Dec. 23 — UPS Next Day Air

See more information from UPS here.

United States Postal Service

Dec. 15 — USPS Retail Ground Service
Dec. 18 — First-Class Mail Service
Dec. 19 — Priority Mail Service
Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express Service

More holiday deadline details from USPS can be found here.

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