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