FedEx’s busiest day: The pre-game show for Santa

The Pak Banker - - International3 -

AN­CHOR­AGE/ALASK A: When that iPad, Xbox Kinect or cash­mere sweater makes it un­der the tree by Christ­mas, you can thank Ann Bax­ter and a le­gion of work­ers just like her.

Bax­ter is among those hus­tling this week in­side the cav­ernous FedEx hub in An­chor­age, one of the ship­ping com­pany's busiest sort­ing cen­ters.

The same scene is play­ing out com­pa­ny­wide, in fact, and FedEx said Mon­day was ex­pected to be the busiest day in its his­tory, with nearly 16 mil­lion pack­ages mov­ing on its con­veyer belts, trucks and planes. The An­chor­age hub was ex­pected to han­dle 145,000 pack­ages on this sin­gle day - al­most dou­ble what work­ers here han­dle on a nor­mal day.

" It's


non­stop," Bax­ter said Mon­day as she sent box af­ter box along a net­work of con­vey­ers, each belt car­ry­ing pack­ages des­tined for a dif­fer­ent ma­jor hub in the lower 48. In the back­ground was the din of huge equip­ment run­ning and the whine of fork­lifts, the air tinged with the smell of ex­haust.

"This is kind of our Su­per Bowl," said Con­nie Carter, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor for FedEx's Alaska op­er­a­tions. "We get ready for this day and the next two weeks all year long."

Mon­day's pre­dicted com­pa­ny­wide record is up 13 per­cent from 14.2 mil­lion on the busiest day last year, and dou­ble what is han­dled on a nor­mal day. That jump in ship­ments bodes well for the nation's re­tail­ers, on­line stores and larger ri­val UPS, which has its sin­gle busiest day next week.

About half of the in­crease is from the com­pany's SmartPost part­ner­ship with the U.S. Postal Ser­vice. SmartPost moves lighter, cheaper pack­ages through FedEx that are then de­liv­ered by a postal worker. A grow­ing num­ber of on­line and cat­a­log pur­chases is driv­ing growth in that unit and across the com­pany.

On­line hol­i­day spend­ing since Nov. 1 is up 12 per­cent over last year to nearly $22 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to re­search com­pany comS­core. Dec. 6 and Wed­nes­day ranked in the top five days for on­line spend­ing ever, comS­core said.

Con­sumers are us­ing smart phones and other mo­bile de­vices, as well as com­put­ers, to buy and ship. On­line auc­tion and shop­ping web­site eBay said Mon­day that Sun­day was its busiest mo­bile shop­ping day so far this year. In the U.S. shop­pers bought $5 mil­lion worth of items on eBay, more than dou­ble on the same Sun­day last year. Mo­bile users are ex­pected to buy $1.5 bil­lion worth of goods this year com­pared with $600 mil­lion last year, ac­cord­ing to eBay.

With many mer­chants pro­mot­ing Fri­day as "Free Ship­ping Day," on­line or­ders over­all are likely to spike again on that day.

On­line spend­ing in­creases come with mod­estly brighter prospects for hol­i­day spend­ing in gen­eral. Re­tail ex­perts pre­dict to­tal spend­ing will in­crease by 2 to 4 per­cent over last year. Al­though this week is the busiest for both UPS and FedEx, there is still time to meet the Christ­mas dead­line. The last day for guar­an­teed FedEx ground ser­vice de­liv­ery is Fri­day. -Reuters

GREECE: An elec­tronic an­nounce­ment panel of a tram ter­mi­nus reads in Greek '24 hours stop­page' in cen­tral Athens on Tues­day. Pub­lic trans­port ser­vices were halted by strikes in greater Athens as unions stepped up protests against aus­ter­ity mea­sures in cri­sis-hit Greece. -Reuters

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