It was called “Ship-a-geddon” when pandemic online shopping collided with the holidays last year. The result was a lot of back-ups and package delays.
As COVID lingers and supply chain issues mount, Patricia Falcao of Needham, Massachusetts, isn’t sure what her holiday shipping strategy is this year.
“Because of supply chain issues one might not get the goods to ship early, so people say ship early, but hello, where are the goods? So this is a complexity!,” Falcao said.
It is! But shipping early is once again the main advice coming from the United States Postal Service, UPS and FedEx this year.
“Last year three billion packages got delivered during the holiday season and we’re going to see even more than that,” says Jenny Robertson, Sr. VP of Integrated Marketing and Communications for FedEx. “This year we’re looking at additional challenges because the supply chain that is slowing things down on the front end before we do those last mile deliveries and that’s why we’re encouraging people to shop and ship early.”
UPS tells NBC10 Boston it can process packages faster than last year because of expanded air and ground fleets and that 88-percent of eligible packages will flow through automated facilities by the end of the year.
The US Postal Service is investing about $40 billion in new equipment, technology and personnel, including the addition of 118 new package sorting machines that are coming online before the holidays.
“We deliver Christmas and the holidays and we’ll do it successfully this year,” said Steve Doherty, USPS strategic communications specialist. “Last year was an anomaly with the transportation crunch and COVID and other related issues, but we’ve put some things in place to make sure that doesn’t happen this year.”
If you’re mailing packages at the post office and want them there by Christmas, the deadline for First Class mail is Dec. 17.
You can push it off to the final days if you want to pay for express service with any of the carriers to ensure delivery by Dec. 25.
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To avoid slowing down your own packages, make sure you write legibly, that your gifts are packaged well with enough cushion and taped securely so they don’t fall apart in transit, and hold onto your tracking information.
Robertson says it helps if you write the tracking number on the package.
“You can actually write it on the box itself in addition to the label that is stuck on the box, in case that gets somehow pulled off. That tracking number will give us what we need to get it to its destination,” she said.
It helps to put the tracking information or mailing information inside your package as well, in case the box gets damaged.
And if you’re late mailing your cards, it is worth the effort to do a USPS zip code lookup online and address them using the nine digit zip code.
“The zip code will get it to the town,” said Doherty, “but that four digit extension puts it in our automated process which allows it to get walk sequence, handed to the carrier so it will get there that much quicker.”
The postal service, FedEx and UPS are looking for help in moving these packages this holiday season. And labor shortages have had an impact. They have openings for tens of thousands of jobs across the country, seasonal and long term.