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New stats reveal the holiday shipping crisis wasn’t quite as bad as we thought


FedEx and UPS on-time delivery rates during the 2020 holiday season were on par with previous years, a recent study shows, and the USPS wasn’t far behind.

Despite the huge backups and unprecedented influx of packages brought about by increased e-commerce and less travel due to COVID-19 – a record breaking 3 billion – FedEx, UPS, and the US Postal Service generally kept up with the demand between November 22nd and December 26th, barring one difficult week for the USPS, according to data from ShipMatrix. 

The data shows that, even during the “Cyber Five” period, the time between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday when package volumes are especially high, FedEx and UPS were able to deliver a high percentage of packages on-time, even compared to 2019, reported Commercial Appeal.

“It is noteworthy that in spite of the demand exceeding capacity by millions of parcels per day, the Cyber Five peak period performance was as follows: 95.1% for FedEx, 96.7% for UPS and 93.2% for USPS,” said ShipMatrix President Satish Jindel. “It compares favorably with 2019 peak period performance for FedEx at 94.6% and UPS at 96.6% but a drop from 93.9% for the Postal Service.”

ShipMatrix says its delay data tracking “is based on millions of actual parcels shipped from over 100,000 shipping locations across the country.”

Still, despite the apparently positive numbers, more than 2 million parcels were still undelivered come Christmas day. 

“FedEx experienced an unprecedented peak season due to the exponential growth of e-commerce, underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic,” FedEx said in a statement. “We are extremely proud of the extraordinary efforts of our nearly 600,000 team members who worked tirelessly to safely deliver the best possible service this holiday season in a challenging environment.”

Because of the high demand, shipping companies such as FedEx and UPS were able to refuse taking on any more packages, leaving even more volume for the already strained USPS. 

From Dec. 6-12, the USPS delivered 87.5% of parcels on time as compared to 2019.

The Postal Service declined to comment on the recently released statistics, but it said it “delivered a record amount of packages this holiday season in the midst of the pandemic which significantly impacted our workforce availability.”

“Capacity challenges with airlifts and trucking for moving this historic volume of mail also led to temporary delays,” USPS continued in a statement.“These challenges were felt by shippers across the board. We are accepting all volumes being presented to us, which adds to the challenge of the workload.”

Shipping trend experts say that, considering the circumstances, it really couldn’t have gone much better, and that shippers were as prepared as they could have been. 

“This year, how could one really forecast two months in advance? “said Cathy Roberson, Logistics Trends and Insights founder. “From a retailer’s perspective, I think that was really difficult to do in the first place.”

In fact, UPS has even made this statement in response to the data:

“[We have] delivered one of the best peak seasons ever for our customers [thanks to] close coordination between UPS and our customers, strong commitment and dedication from UPSers, and extensive preparation supported by technology and capacity alignment throughout our network.”


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