The Times Herald (Norristown, PA)

Carriers predicting on-time deliveries

- By David Sharp

The nation’s major shipping companies are in the best shape to get holiday shoppers’ packages delivered on time since the start of the pandemic, suggesting a return to normalcy.

Carriers like the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and United Parcel Service project to have enough capacity after struggling under the holiday crush for the past two years, when many people hunkered down at home and turned to online shopping.

The system is already being put to the test ahead of big shopping days on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when retailers entice shoppers with bargains. Amazon held a second Prime Day in October to jumpstart early holiday sales, but some shoppers are still holding out for deals in the coming days.

Brie Carere, chief customer care officer at FedEx, told The Associated Press she’s not worried: “The network is running the best that it has since COVID. We’re confident and ready.”

There are several factors at play: Consumers have gotten an early start, done more shopping in stores and moderated spending because of inflationa­ry pressures, thus reducing shipping volume and spreading out shipments over a longer period. An extra shipping day between Thanksgivi­ng and Christmas helps, too.

The outlook could be a win for carriers who need fewer temporary workers, retailers who face fewer peak surcharges, and shoppers whose gifts are more likely to be delivered on time, said Satish Jindel, president of Pennsylvan­iabased ShipMatrix.

The overall optimism represents a sharp contrast to holiday seasons in 2020 and 2021 when more everyday items were shipped during the pandemic, supply chain problems were a concern, and shipping companies struggled to keep up.

Carriers that reached their capacity limit dumped their excess parcels on the struggling U.S. Postal Service in 2020, when more than a third of Postal Service first-class mail was late by the time Christmas arrived. Back then, the Postal Service battled through despite thousands of quarantine­d workers.

Performanc­e improved last year. And Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the situation is even better now, with the installati­on of 137 new package-sorting machines ahead of the holiday season, bringing the total to 249 additional package-processing machines since March 2021.

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